Monday 26 September 2016

Forkful's speedy suppers

Aoife McElwain

Published 08/05/2015 | 02:30

Roasted Red Pepper Pasta
Roasted Red Pepper Pasta
Stuffed peppers

I was testing out a roast pepper pasta sauce made with jarred peppers, to see if it would make the grade for a speedy supper to share with you. The result was not good. It was too vinegary, and I compounded that flavour failure by trying to add sugar to rescue it. A bad idea.

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It reminded me that sometimes there just aren't any short cuts worth taking. There's no comparison with roasting red peppers from scratch to blend into a pasta sauce and, though they need half-an-hour to cook, there isn't anything complicated about throwing a few red peppers in the oven.

Roasted Red Pepper Pasta

Serves 2 

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cooking Time: 45 minutes

You can serve this pasta with some pieces of fried chorizo to add a spicy, meaty kick.

INGREDIENTS

2 red peppers

2 sprigs of fresh rosemary

1 tablespoon of olive oil

2 cloves garlic

Half a small onion, finely diced

2 tablespoons crème fraiche

150g of penne or fusilli

A handful of finely grated Parmesan

Black pepper

METHOD

1 Preheat the oven to 200c/180c fan/Gas Mark 6. Deseed your red peppers and slice into bite-sized chunks. Place in a baking tray along with the fresh rosemary and garlic cloves. Drizzle and roast for 25 to 30 minutes, until tender.

2 When the red peppers are cooked through, remove from the oven. In a large frying pan, cook the diced onion for 3 minutes. Add the red peppers and garlic cloves to the frying pan and cook for a further two minutes.

3 Use a hand-held blender to blitz the peppers until you have a smooth sauce.

4 Cook the pasta according to its packet's instructions. Mix through the red pepper sauce and serve with a handful of Parmesan and cracked black pepper.

Stuffed Red Peppers

Serves 2

Prep time: 15 minutes

Cooking time: 20 minutes

This slightly retro recipe hasn't lost any of its appeal in my kitchen, especially when paired with roast meats or added to a platter of salads.

INGREDIENTS

200g couscous

200ml vegetable stock

1 tablespoon of olive oil

Juice of half a lemon

1 tablespoon of raisins

4 red or yellow peppers

Olive oil for cooking

50g of feta cheese

Freshly chopped mint

METHOD

1 Place the couscous in a bowl and pour in hot vegetable stock, enough to just cover the couscous. Leave it for about 10 minutes, fluffing it with a fork from time to time before adding the olive oil, lemon juice and raisins.

2 Meanwhile, remove the tops of the peppers, cutting a hole in the top that is wide enough to scoop the couscous into it without slicing it in two.

Remove the seeds and any white parts of the skin from inside the peppers.

3 Scoop the couscous into the peppers. Drizzle with a bit more olive oil before cooking in your oven at 200c / 180c fan / Gas Mark 6 for 15 minutes. After 15 minutes, remove the peppers from the oven and crumble the feta over the top. Place them back in the oven for another 5 minutes, so that the cheese starts to melt.

4 Serve with a sprinkling of freshly chopped mint and a drizzle of olive oil on top, and with some green salad on the side.

This week's storecupboard essential:

Couscous: Having a constant supply of couscous in my cupboard has come to my culinary rescue many times. If I'm lost for inspiration, I'll whip up a salad of roasted vegetables, couscous, feta, mint and pomegranate. It never fails to hit the spot.

Photos: Mark Duggan

Irish Independent

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