Meatless Monday–Linguine with Sweet Pepper Sauce

Here’s the good and bad of this recipe.  The good is really two-fold.  First of all, carbs.  Love.  Clearly.  Second of all, it’s a quick and easy, light, summery recipe that make for great lunch leftovers.

The bad.  I went to Italy shortly after making this, so it all of a sudden paled in comparison to what I had in the trattoria with the adorable Italian nonnas making fresh pasta at a table next to the window.  But we can’t all have that everyday now, can we?  Unless we’re Italian.  Which I’m not.

Even still, I recommend adding this to your summer weeknight dinner list.  Better yet, make it for a weekend lunch like I did.  Since it comes together in a breeze (you can even make the red pepper sauce in advance), you’ll have more time to enjoy the sunshine, swimming pool, and all the other things we’ll miss when the season passes.

linguine pepper sauce

Sweet summer bell peppers, creamy cheese, and fresh basil combine for a light and healthy vegetarian pasta that’s out of this world.

Linguine with Sweet Pepper Sauce
adapted from Cooking Light, June 2014

8 oz. uncooked linguine
2 red bell peppers
2 yellow bell peppers
4 TBSP extra-virgin olive oil
6 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1 tsp. sea salt, plus more for finishing
1/2 tsp. freshly-ground black pepper, plus more as desired
4 oz. semi-soft cheese, such as Burrata or mozzarella, cut or torn into bite-sized pieces
1/4 c. fresh basil leaves, julienned

1.  If you have a gas stove, turn burners on medium and place peppers directly on to grates.  Turn as needed, until flesh is black and bubbling.  Put peppers in a large brown paper bag and close.  Let sit ten minutes, then peel all charred skin from the peppers, remove flesh, and cut into strips.  Discard seeds and stem.  Alternately, preheat boiler to high.  Halve and seed the peppers and place, skin sides up, on a foil-lined baking sheet.  Flatten with hand and place under the broiler.  Broil eight minutes or until blackened.  Wrap peppers in foil and let stand ten minutes.  Peel black skin from flesh and cut into strips.

2.  Cook pasta according to package directions.    

3.  Meanwhile, place half of each color bell pepper strips in a food processor along with 1 TBSP oil, 1/2 tsp. salt, and all the pepper.  Purée until nearly smooth.  Set aside.

4.  Heat a large sauté pan over medium-low heat.  Add three TBSP oil to pan and swirl to coat.  Add garlic and cook two minutes, until the garlic becomes fragrant and soft.  Add 1/4 c. pasta cooking liquid, puréed bell pepper, and the remaining salt.  Stir to combine.  Toss in pasta.  Taste and adjust seasonings, keeping in mind the cheese will add some saltiness.

5.  Divide pasta among four bowls.  Top each bowl with equal amounts of the bell pepper strips, cheese, and basil.  Serve immediately.

Yields: 4 servings 

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