Red Cat Pepper Pasta Back Again

In case you didn’t notice, there are a LOT of peppers in this picture

CSA Pick-up 9/22/12. Extreme close up of peppers (bell peppers and jalapenos)

What’s a gal to do with these beauties? I’m all good on the “putting up” front. I’ve got more frozen julienned yellow, red, and green bell peppers than I know what to do with from previous pick-ups.  I thought back to a recipe from the Red Cat restaurant cookbook that Hubs and I used to prepare somewhat regularly. We also used to be Red Cat regulars and remain big fans.

Red Cat cookbook

The recipe for Bucatini with Peppers and Anchovies was salty, savory and full of texture, but always a little greasy.  The recipe also called for Italian frying peppers, which I would never have on hand and would inevitably require a special trip to the store.  Over the years, I’ve also tried to prepare  meals with  protein as the centerpiece, rather than carbohydrates. So the recipe fell to the wayside. But I thought about dusting it off and refreshing it with some of my surplus CSA ingredients.

Here’s how I updated it: I substituted fresh bell peppers for the frying peppers and used a fresh jalapeno in place of the dried chili flakes to add heat. Oh, and I used spaghettini instead of bucatini – bucatini are a long, tubular pasta shape and generally a specialty pasta. I also used less panko than the recipe called for. This, combined with the juicy bell peppers made for a moister dish than previous attempts. This recipe is going back in the rotation, with my recent updates. One tip: don’t be afraid of the anchovies. They lend flavor, saltiness and depth to the sauce. The dish does NOT taste fishy at all. Ask Hubs.

Ingredients:

200 grams of spaghettini, or other long, thin pasta that you have on hand
3 tablespoons of olive oil
3 medium cloves garlic, thinly sliced
6 anchovy fillets, minced
2 large red, orange and/or yellow bell peppers, stemmed, seeded and thinly sliced lengthwise
4-5  pepperoncini  (the chartreuse-colored, jarred peppers you find in the grocery), sliced horizontally
1 jalapeno, stemmed, seeded and minced
1/4 cup panko, or dried bread crumbs
1/4 cup grated Parmiggiano
Pinch crushed red pepper flakes (about 1/8 teaspoon)
Handful chopped parsley
1/2 lemon

Directions:

Cook the pasta according to the package directions to al dente doneness.

Meanwhile, heat the oil in a wide, deep, heavy saute pan over medium-high heat. Add the garlic and anchovies and cook for about 3 minutes, mashing the anchovies until they disintegrate. Add the bell peppers and jalapeno and cook for about 3 minutes, stirring, until the peppers soften. Add the pepperoncini, stir and remove the pan from the heat.

In a small bowl, combine the bread crumbs, Parmesan cheese, pepper flakes and parsley.

When the pasta is nearly done, reserve 1/2 cup of pasta water. I recommend using a glass measure cup, because it has a handle and you can scoop up the water easily without burning yourself. When pasta is al dente, drain it and add it to the pan with the anchovy and pepper mixture. Add half of the the bread crumb mixture, along with a splash of the pasta water. Squeeze the lemon half over the pan, using a small strainer or your hand to catch any seeds, and toss to combine.

Divide the pasta among shallow serving bowls. Top with remaining bread crumb mixture and serve. Add a splash of olive oil if pasta is dry.

Yield: 2 generous servings

 

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