Penne & Red Pepper Sauce

Penne with red pepper sauce is “what I make” – penne pasta with a creamy and flavorful roasted red pepper sauce. It’s made frequently in our apartment and even served to company on occasion.

This is another one of my favourite recipes that my mom made often. I am known to quadruple the recipe for a much saucier pasta experience: just add three more of everything. The ground almonds add a slight texture, while the garlic and parmesan add just a bit of sharpness to the already distinctive and sweet flavour of the roasted red pepper.

Penne with Red Pepper Sauce

Penne pasta
1 red pepper
1 clove garlic
1 tablespoon cream cheese
1 tablespoon ground almonds
1/4 cup parmesan cheese and extra for sprinkling
Olive oil
Salt and pepper
Frank’s Red Hot sauce

Line a baking sheet with tinfoil. If you don’t, you will be “soaking” your baking sheet in the sink for days afterward because this gets very messy.

Cut the pepper into quarters and place on a baking sheet, skin side up. Put the pepper into the oven at about 400 degrees until the outer skin is blackened and the inner flesh is soft. If you’re impatient, put it under the broiler for a few minutes. Alternatively, you can hold the pepper over the flame from a gas stove until the same desired effect is achieved.

Allow the peppers to cool enough to remove the skin, or toss them into a paper bag for a few moments to steam off the skin. While you’re waiting, boil a pot of water and add your penne. The sauce won’t take longer than it takes to boil the pasta, and it’s important to have your sauce ready to go right away because the only thing keeping the dish hot upon serving is the heat from the pasta itself.

Place all other ingredients – garlic, cream cheese, ground almonds, parmesan, and hot sauce – into a blender. Remove the skin from the peppers and add them to the blender. Blend. Add olive oil until you have a smoother sauce, and salt and pepper “to taste” – whatever that means.

I don’t add Frank’s to the actual sauce anymore, instead transforming my penne with red pepper sauce into a mere delivery system for the hot sauce once it’s plated. Matt is less excited when I make it lately, saying it doesn’t have the “love” in it that it once did. I think he is just missing the Frank’s, because the two are easily confused. Once served, more parmesan cheese can be sprinkled on top.

The recipe is incredibly versatile, and it can be transformed into a lighter dish by merely oven-roasting any veggies you have on hand – sliced onions, whole garlic cloves, peppers, tomatoes – with a drizzle of olive oil, salt and pepper. Throw it all in the blender for a perfect pasta sauce, including or foregoing the cream cheese depending on your taste. Fresh basil is also a tasty addition to the original recipe.

Click HERE for a printable version of the recipe.