Smokin’ Hot (or not) Pepper Pasta
October 8, 2012
Our garden grew wild this year. Between the overload of responsibilities and excursions that spring demanded, not to mention an uncooperative back, it is actually surprising we even found time to thrust some plants in the ground. But somehow, despite our lackluster efforts, the garden is producing heartily. The other afternoon on a saunter through our beds I was shocked to find piles of peppers. We planted a variety of sweet and hot that we found at our favorite plant sale. Each plant boasts a different flavor, color and shape. The other night their abundance begged to be honored with a starring role in this dish.
Smoking Hot (or not) Pepper Pasta is a simple, but magnificent celebration of the pepper. The peppers are roughly in equal volume to the pasta, keeping the dish one the light side with tons of flavor. Adapt at your (and your garden’s) will to whichever peppers you have on hand. I like a blend of sweet and hot. We have the most beautiful habañero peppers this year, so I opted for all sweet and one diced habañero in the mix. Habañero peppers are not only one of the hottest peppers on the planet, they also have an incredibly delicious flavor. One pepper in this dish added flavor to permeate each and every bite. The heat was subtle at first, but built into a sweat inducing fire that made you remember that we really are alive. Hot peppers are optional of course.
Adapted from Simple Pleasures by Alfred Portale
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, peeled and thinly sliced
1 ½ pounds mixed hot and sweet peppers, seeded and julienned (I used all mostly sweet Hungarian peppers with one habañero)
1 tablespoon minced garlic
Coarsely ground pepper
¾ cup chicken stock
½ pound dried spaghetti
2 tablespoons thinly sliced basil leaves
Parmesan cheese for serving
Optional- ½ pound grilled Italian sausage, cut into discs
Fill a large pot with water and bring to a boil.
Heat the olive oil in a medium saucepan. Add the onion and cook until translucent, but not brown. Add the garlic and cook a minute or two more, until you begin to smell the garlic. Add the peppers and season with salt and pepper. Toss the peppers and onions around in the pot to coat with oil. You can add a bit more oil if it is looking dry. Reduce the heat to medium low and cook until the peppers begin to soften. Pour the stock over the top and raise the heat to high. Once boiling, allow it to cook uncovered and reduce for about 5 minutes.
While the peppers are cooking, season the pot of boiling water generously with salt. Toss in the spaghetti and cook until the pasta is al dente. When pasta is done, strain from the pot and add it to the peppers. Add the sausage if using. Toss to coat the pasta in the light sauce and to mix the peppers and pasta. Check for seasoning and add more salt and pepper if necessary. Top with the basil. Serve warm with Parmesan cheese.
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