Roasted Bell Pepper and Pasta Salad

Bell peppers have been referred to as the Christmas ornaments of the vegetable world.  Their beautiful bell shape featuring three or more lobes,  glossy skin and variety of vivid colors from green to red to purple to yellow and orange shout out festive excitement all twelve months of the year.  In spite of the varied palette all are the same plant, known scientifically as Capsicum annuum.  In addition, they are members of the nightshade family which also includes eggplant, potatoes and tomatoes.  Green and purple peppers have a savory, almost grassy taste while the red, yellow and orange bells have a characteristic sweet, almost fruity, flavor.  Bell peppers are not hot because of a recessive gene that eliminates the capsaicin, the compound responsible for the hotness that is so characterisitc of other peppers.

Bell peppers, like their relatives the chili peppers, are indigenous to South America, having originated with seeds of a wild variety dating back to 5000 BC.  As is the case with many other foods native to this region, bell peppers were carried throughout the world by the Spanish and Portuguese explorers who traveled through this continent.

Bell peppers have become a staple of many global cuisines for a variety of reasons.  First of all, they are adaptable to both temperate and tropical climates so are readily grown around the world.  Secondly, their versatility and ready adoption into a variety of cusines have made them nearly indispensable in kitchens spanning the globe.  When dried for paprika they are a staple in central Europe.  In the Deep South they are essential to the flavor of Louisiana creole dishes.  Mexican and Portuguese cuisines would not be the same without them!  The primary producers of sweet peppers are Mexico, China, Spain, Turkey, Romania and Nigeria.

The bell pepper plays a significant role in our kitchen in part because of Dayton’s long association with this versatile vegetable.  As a youngster of Italian and Portuguese ancestry growing up on the ranch he recalls the peperonata that was prepared by his dad and served often, either marinated or as part of an antipasto tray.  As a chef he remembers those wonderful flavors he first experienced so many years ago and created this past week a magnificent pasta dish containing roasted red, green and yellow bell peppers, al dente penne rigate, a chiffonade of fresh basil and wild arugula, Kalamata olives and capers… all tossed with an emulsified dressing of garlic, red wine vinegar, Dijon mustard, anchovies, lemon juice and Worcestershire sauce.  This is a magnificent dish that we will enjoy again and again… and know you will too!

Insalata con Penne e Peperoni Arrostiti

  • 6 assorted bell peppers (we suggest 3 green, 2 red and 1 yellow)

Roast the peppers over a hot flame, turning to char the skin evenly:

Immediately place the peppers in a plastic or paper bag to sweat for 20 – 30 minutes.  Remove the charred skin with your fingertips and wipe away any remaining charred bits with a paper towel.  Do not rinse under running water as this will diminish the smoky flavor that is desired by roasting.  Remove the seeds and the ribs and cut into 1 1/2-inch wide strips:

Cut strips in half and arrange one layer in the bottom of a flat bowl or glass dish for marinating:

Place in a mortar:

  • 5 anchovy fillets, chopped
  • 4 whole cloves peeled garlic, finely minced

Work the mixture with the pestle until a paste is formed.  Transfer to a blender.  To the blender add:

  • 3/4 C extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 1/2 T Dijon mustard
  • 5 T red wine vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika (Pimenton Ahumado)
  • 2 tsp lemon juice
  • 3 – 4 dashes Worcestershire sauce

Process until the dressing is smooth and emulsified.  Drizzle a portion of the dressing over the first layer of roasted peppers:

Place a second layer of roasted peppers over the first and drizzle with additional dressing.  Repeat, if necessary, until all peppers are in the bowl and covered with dressing:

Cover dish with film and refrigerate overnight to meld the flavors.  The next day cook in salted boiling water until al dente:

  • 12-oz penne rigate

When cooked, drain and transfer the pasta to a large stainless steel bowl:

Add:

  • the marinated peppers in dressing

Toss to combine.  Add:

  • 1 1/4 C pitted and halved Kalamata olives
  • 3 T capers

Gently toss once again then add:

  • 1 small bunch fresh basil, cut into chiffonade
  • 4-oz wild arugula

Toss again to combine and serve immediately!  This wonderfully fresh pasta salad is particularly delicious served with marinated and grilled chicken or pork paillards… Bon Appetit!

Copyright 2010 Via Aurea Designs, Inc., All Rights Reserved

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Tags:

Categories: Pasta, Salads

Author:Steve Meyer & Dayton Azevedo

Food and fine cooking have been our passion for many years, fueled by the year-around abundance of fresh fruits, vegetables, poultry and meats, as well as aromatic spices and herbs readily available to us here in the San Francisco Bay Area, making adventuresome, creative and delicious 5-star cooking a reality in our kitchen. Our aim is to make it yours as well by utilizing our step by step instructions and serial photographs. Bon Appetit from our kitchen to yours...!

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One Comment on “Roasted Bell Pepper and Pasta Salad”

  1. June 1, 2010 at 10:12 AM #

    Steve and Dayton:

    Thank you so much for the meal. This roasted bell pepper pasta was just divine. The melding of all the flavors with the pasta was simply perfect!

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