Roasting peppers is something that we don’t do often enough. The tender smoky flesh inside all that charred blackness is the heart of this dish, literally and metaphorically speaking.
This simple pasta dish has it all – it’s wholesome, not entirely different from what makes it comforting, and makes for a very fulfilling meal. I understand that we’re only talking pasta here, but how often do we manage to add a completely different dimension to our everyday pasta, right?
I’d come across this recipe a few months ago, but as most things go..um, it went. You know the thing with blogging? You end up focusing on dishes that are ‘different’ – unusual food pairings, unique ingredients and the like. The truth is, even though all that is fun and impressive, most often all I crave is something familiar. Comforting. Even though this recipe came into my life just a few months ago, it’s definitely one that’s here to stay!
Hold the peppers one by one over an open flame using tongs, and flip them over every few minutes until they are charred and almost blackened on all sides. Place the one that is done in a zip-lock bag while you do the next one; leave them both in the bags for about 5 minutes until they sweat and soften (the skins should come off easily at this point). Cut into the pepper, discard the seeds and white membrane with a sharp knife, and coarsely chop them. Purée in a blender and set aside.
If using fresh tomatoes : bring a pot of water up to the boil and plunge the tomatoes in until the skins start to peel away, about 10 minutes. Completely peel back the skins and coarsely purée them in a blender.
Cook the pasta until al dente and set aside (retain 1 cup of water before draining).
Add olive oil to a big pan and sauté the onions until lightly browned. Toss in the garlic, chilli flakes, salt, pepper, and oregano and sauté for a minute. Add the red pepper purée and tomato purée/canned tomatoes along with ½ cup of milk and cook uncovered for 15 – 20 minutes until the sauce thickens slightly and you get the right consistency. Tear in a few basil leaves and mix into the sauce.
Tip the cooked pasta into the sauce and coat evenly (add the starchy pasta water if needed to loosen out the sauce a bit). Grate Parmesan cheese over the top and garnish with a few basil leaves. Serve immediately.