I grew up in a middle-class neighbourhood in the west end of Toronto. All of my schools were within a 10 minute walking distance. Elementary was literally across the street, middle school beside it, and high school about 6 blocks away. I spent most of my school years coming home for lunch.
My main memory of coming home for lunch from elementary school was eating ‘roni cheese’, aka macaroni and cheese. Not boxed, mind you, it was home-made by my mom. It was very simple: noodle of her choice, cheddar cheese, butter, milk, salt and pepper. I enjoyed my lunches watching the Flintstones before I filled up on carbs for an afternoon of schooling.
When I moved out of home, pasta was my go-to. It’s cheap, easy, and can be made a thousand different ways. When I got married, my husband, who was more of a meat-and-potatoes kind of guy from eastern Canada, wasn’t thrilled with what seems like pasta for dinner every night. But, if I had a choice of my last meal on earth, it would have to include some kind of pasta.
This recipe can take as long or as short as you want. You can char the peppers yourself, or you can use jarred peppers and just cook the garlic with the onions. I’ve done both. Jarred and canned roasted red peppers are great to have on hand. Make sure you use fresh parmesan, it’s always better than the shaker can.
- 6 red peppers, cut into quarters with seeds and membranes removed OR a 12 ounce jar of roasted red peppers
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 TAB olive oil
- 1 small onion, diced
- 2 TAB butter
- 1 cup vegetable broth
- 1/2 cup whipping cream
- 500 grams pasta of choice
- freshly grated parmesan
Set oven to broil. Place red bell pepper quarters skin side up on a foil lined baking sheet. Place under the broiler for about 10-15 minutes or until skins are blackened all round. (Note: Most ovens where I am don’t have a broiler, but you can char them straight on the gas flame, turning until it blackened). Remove from the oven and place peppers in a sealed ziploc bag for 10 minutes. Remove the skins with your fingers (they should slip right off). Roughly chop the softened peppers. Set aside.
Heat olive oil over medium heat and cook onions until soft; about 5 minutes. Add garlic during the last minute of cooking time and cook for a minute. Remove from heat, let cool a few minutes. Carefully transfer peppers and garlic and onion mixture to a food processor or blender and puree.
Add butter to the saucepan and melt over medium heat. Pour the red pepper puree into the pan and stir to combine. Add broth, whipping cream, milk, and salt and pepper to taste.
Cook pasta in heavily salted water to al dente, according to package directions. Drain and set aside. I always save a little pasta water and add to sauces to help the noodles stick to the sauce.
Toss noodles and sauce together. Serve garnished with freshly grated parmesan.