Bucatini with roasted red pepper sauce and zucchini
When Summer arrives, my husband asks me to cook spaghetti con la crema di peperoni arrostiti – spaghetti with roasted pepper sauce, one of his favorites dishes. Even though it is a simple pasta recipe, results vary depending on the quality of ingredients one chooses.
I would never cook it during Winter or Fall since peppers are not as sweet and tasty as they are during Summer time. Moreover, I would never use any type of heavy cream, since it covers the real flavors of food. Most Italians I know are not fond of heavy cream, specially when cooking Summer recipes. To get a creamy consistency, I usually blend extra virgin olive oil with any type of aged cheese, such as Pecorino, Grana Padano, or Parmigiano Reggiano.
This time I am making some changes to this recipe:
- I am adding zucchini not only because I love them, but also because I got them from my mother in law, who grows vegetables in her country house in Umbria, and I thought they will pair well with my red pepper sauce.
- I am using Bucatini instead of spaghetti. Another important thing to take into account when cooking pasta, is the quality of pasta itself. Last Sunday, we were visiting the Tuscan countryside and stopped at Tenuta La Parrina (http://www.parrina.it/en/welcome.htm), a farm where tourists can board, buy or eat local produce. At the store, I found Bucatini pasta, which is a hollow version of spaghetti, commonly used in typical Roman dishes such as Amatriciana, Carbonara, and Cacio e Pepe. These Bucatini were made using a method called trafilatura in bronzo, a process where the dough is passed through a trafilatrice, a pasta making machine, that determines the pasta shape. If the trafila (die) is made of bronze, the pasta produced will have a rough texture, allowing sauces to cling to it.
- Instead of using classic basil, I am adding with two types of herbs: oregano and erba pepe (literally traduced as pepper herb), an herb similar to the taste of a mixture of marjoram and thyme.
Here’s the recipe:
2 big sweet red peppers
2 tablespoons of grated Parmiggiano Reggiano cheese.
350 grams (12 ounces) of Bucatini pasta
2 sprigs of fresh oregano
2 sprigs of erba pepe (you can use thyme or marjoram instead)
3 medium size zucchini (thinly sliced)
5 tablespoons of olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
I used a mandolin to slice zucchini thinly. This is important since zucchini have to crumble when cooked so they blend well with the pepper sauce and pasta.
Bucatini pasta from Tenuta La Parrina.
Preheat oven to 200° C (400 °F) for 15 minutes. Place red peppers and broil for about 30 minutes or until skins are blackened.
Transfer peppers to plastic wrap or bag. Close the bag or seal with plastic wrap, and let peppers steam and cool.
Unwrap peppers. Pull off and discard skins. This step can be done under running water.
This is erba pepe, the strange herb that tastes like marjoram and thyme.
Blend peppers, 3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil, and 2 tablespoons of Parmigiano Reggiano cheese.
The pepper sauce will have a creamy consistency due to combining extra virgin olive oil with Parmigiano Reggiano, so there is no need to add heavy cream. Try the sauce before adding salt since Parmigiano Reggiano cheese has already salt, and then add salt and pepper to taste.
Heat a skillet with 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil and saute zucchini until slightly crumbled and golden. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Lightly saute some zucchini slices for garnish. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Meanwhile bring a pot with water to a boil. When boiling, add coarse salt, and cook pasta following package instructions.
Drain pasta and transfer it to the skillet (over very low heat). Add red pepper sauce, zucchini, and herbs.
Blend all ingredients.
As said before, extra virgin olive oil and Parmigiano Regiano cheese – over low heat – form a creamy consistency.
Before plating, arrange zucchini slices on a plate as if they were flower petals.
In a recent post, Spaghetti with tomatoes, basil and pecorino romano, a lot of people have asked me to include pictures of making pasta nests. Therefore, to please my foddie fellows, here I go.
Pasta nests procedure:
To form a pasta nest, use a fork with long enough tines and hold it perpendicular over the skillet.
Twirl and grab as much pasta as you can. Carefully transfer pasta to a soup ladle and twirl to form a nest.
While transferring pasta to the plate, continue twirling slowly to prevent pasta from falling down from the ladle.
Gently and slowly place the nest on a plate. Never stop twirling!!!
Finish by placing some zucchini (which are difficult to grab with the fork) left on the skillet. Add an oregano sprig on top of the nest.