When I think Italian food, I think red.
Tomatoes. Spaghetti sauce. A nice glass of Chianti.
It’s a limited vision. But it doesn’t have to be so.
It could be yellow.
I conjured up the following recipe after a friend gave me some fresh lemons. I wanted to make some comfort food (and icy cold lemonade wasn’t gonna cut it), so I thought of linguine with lemon sauce. But I had some yellow peppers I wanted to use up, the inspiration for which brought me to a bunch of red pepper sauce recipes. Thus was born my Pasta with Lemon & Pepper Cream Sauce.
I liked it so much, I made it again a couple of days later with some vibrant orange sweet peppers. And a couple of carrots. ‘Cause I’m just a wild and crazy gal (who likes to sneak veggies into everything).
The result had all the atomic orange goodness of a bowl of Kraft macaroni cheese without any of the scary dyes or preservatives. The half-and-half (or cream, if you’re really needing it) speaks of comfort. There is a ton of natural, delicious flavor here, but don’t skip over the fresh lemon juice or the red pepper flakes.
Pasta with Lemon & Pepper Cream Sauce
- 2 orange (or yellow or, if you must be conventional, red) sweet peppers, seeded and cut into eighths
- 2 carrots, peeled and cut into sticks (skeptical? You won’t even taste these — but they’re orange! and good for you!)
- 4 cloves garlic, smashed and skins removed
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- about 12 cherry tomatoes, halved (I used red, but I really wished I had orange on hand — these are for garnish)
- zest of 1 fresh lemon plus about a tablespoon of lemon juice
- 3-4 tablespoons half-and-half
- 1 tablespoon dried parsley
- 1 teaspoon dried basil
- A pinch of red pepper flakes
- 4-6 ounces of your favorite pasta (I like angel hair, but you have my permission to be unconventional)
- 2 tablespoons shredded parmesan cheese
- Salt and lots of freshly ground black pepper
- Arrange peppers, carrots and garlic on a cookie sheet. I tucked the garlic cloves into the pepper pieces so they wouldn’t get burnt (though a little browning just adds yumminess). Drizzle with oil. Add salt and pepper. Roast in a hot 400 degree oven for 25 minutes, stirring once or twice. Add the cherry tomatoes and roast for 10 minutes more (35 minutes total).
- Allow roasted veggies to cool slightly. Reserve the cherry tomatoes for garnish later. Now’s the time to start your salted water a boilin’ for your pasta.
- Combine lemon zest, lemon juice, roasted veggies, half-and-half and dried spices in blender (I used a smoothie glass) and blend until smooth. It will be thick, like a smoothie. Taste it and add salt and pepper as necessary.
- When your noodles are done (al dente if you must, or a little mushier if you’re more like me), drain and add back to your hot pot. Dump your blended veggies into pot and mix well.
- To serve, divide between two bowls (or, if you’re really hungry, dump into a single big bowl). Garnish with parmesan, your roasted cherry tomatoes and freshly ground black pepper. Serves 1 or 2.