Roasted Red Pepper and Goat Cheese Pasta

IMG_1023.jpg

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July pasta month is over and I find I still have pasta dishes I want to share with you! Like this Roasted Red Pepper and Goat Cheese Pasta with toasted walnuts.

Several years ago I went through a phase where I wanted everything roasted red pepper. I’m not sure if that was an actual thing in the culinary world, or it just happened to be the first time that roasted red pepper really came to my attention, and thus started noticing and wanting all things roasted red pepper. Pastas and dips, sandwiches and wraps, and anything you could incorporate roasted red peppers into. That smoky, sweet flavor you get from grilling the red peppers was this elusive, elegant flavor profile because I didn’t know how it was made.

Then I found a recipe for roasted red pepper sauce, made it, and was floored by how NOT elusive it is. It’s so attainable. I even grilled my own peppers instead of going for the much easier option of buying a jar of roasted red peppers at the store. And you know what? Even grilling the peppers and peeling off the blackened skin wasn’t nearly as hard as I imagined it all to be. Sometimes those mountains we build in our heads are much more scalable than we make them out to be, even if that’s just learning how to make a dish you really like, as in this example, harhar. Or you come to realize it’s WAY more difficult than you ever imagined, and you were right to wait. Aha!

This was not meant to turn into a inspirational post, back to food.

It’s been a while since I’ve eaten roasted red pepper anything, definitely not much of a thing here in Italy. But I decided, while being inspired and eating so much pasta in the month of July, to make my own little twist of a roasted red pepper sauce. And it turned out really great! Amazing! Delizioso! As I stated above, however, it’s really not rocket science to make, so I should probably calm down. Adding goat cheese and toasted walnuts are no new pairing to goat cheese, but remain such a good combination. Never had nuts on your pasta? At least not that you’re aware of? Don’t knock it until you’ve tried it! Unless you have a nut allergy, then please don’t. (You’ve probably eaten basil pesto on pasta, yes? Pesto is made from pine nuts traditionally, and often walnuts when pine nuts are not available or too expensive. See? You love nuts on pasta and didn’t even know!)

The great thing is, the roasted red pepper sauce actually makes enough for two meals, and freezes well. The next time you want roasted red pepper pasta, just thaw the sauce and boil the pasta. So easy peasy.

For extra easy-ness, you can buy a jar of roasted red peppers or grill them yourself, completely up to you.

Are you vegan or dairy-free? Simply omit the goat cheese or substitute a vegan-friendly cheese!


Roasted Red Pepper and Goat Cheese Pasta

IMG_1026.jpg

Serves about 6

Ingredients:

  • 16 oz / 500g spaghetti

  • 2 Tbsp / 28g oil

  • 1/2 onion, diced

  • 4 garlic cloves, minced

  • 16 oz / 454g jar roasted red peppers, drained and sliced

  • 1 Tbsp fresh chopped thyme

  • 1/2 tsp / 1g chili powder

  • 1/2 tsp / 1g turmeric

  • 1 tsp / 5g balsamic vinegar

  • salt and pepper, to taste

  • 3 oz / 85g fresh goat cheese, cut into pieces, optional

  • 1/3 cup / 30g walnuts, chopped and toasted, optional

Directions:

  1. Bring a large pot of water to boil over high heat, adding salt just before water boils. Cook pasta according to instructions on package. Drain pasta and return to pan, reserving a generous 1 cup / 237g of pasta water.

  2. While the pasta is cooking, heat oil in a medium pan over medium heat. Add onion and cook until it begins to soften, about 2-3 minutes. Add garlic and cook for another 1-2 minutes, until fragrant.

  3. Add sliced peppers, thyme, chili powder, turmeric, balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper. Cook until peppers are heated through.

  4. Transfer all of the pepper mixture to a blender and puree until smooth.

  5. Pour half of the roasted red pepper sauce over the pasta and add a bit of the pasta water. Add goat cheese and toss until pasta is well coated and cheese has melted, adding more pasta water to thin out sauce as desired.

  6. Plate pasta and top with toasted walnuts.

  7. Refrigerate remaining half of sauce for up to 2-3 days or freeze.

Jenny’s Notes:

  • To roast red peppers yourself, place whole on a heated grill or near an open flame, turning occasionally, until all sides are blistered and start to blacken. You can also roast them on a lined baking sheet in the oven for 30-45 minutes, or very carefully over a gas burner. Once done, place in covered pot, bowl, or re-sealable plastic, anything you can close, to let the peppers steam for about 20-30 minutes. This helps the skin to slip off easily. Then remove stems and seeds, and slice. Proceed as in recipe.

  • If you don’t have fresh thyme available, substitute about a scant teaspoon of dried.

  • Add more chili powder, cayenne, or hot spice of choice for a spicier kick!

  • If you’re in a pinch you don’t have to toast the walnuts, although you miss out on that tasty flavor that comes out of the nut only by toasting. But it will still be delicious!

  • Omit goat cheese or replace with suitable substitute to make vegan and dairy-free.

roasted red pepper, red pepper, thyme, turmeric, garlic, onion, goat cheese, toasted walnuts, pasta, recipe, vegan, vegetarian, dairy-free
Yield: 6 servings
Author:

Roasted Red Pepper and Goat Cheese Pasta

Pasta in a smoky, sweet, roasted red pepper sauce with goat cheese and toasted walnuts.
prep time: 30 Mcook time: total time: 30 M

ingredients:

  • 16 oz / 500g spaghetti
  • 2 Tbsp / 28g oil
  • 1/2 onion, diced
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 16 oz / 454g jar roasted red peppers, drained and sliced
  • 1 Tbsp fresh chopped thyme
  • 1/2 tsp / 1g chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp / 1g turmeric
  • 1 tsp / 5g balsamic vinegar
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 3 oz / 85g fresh goat cheese, cut into pieces, optional
  • 1/3 cup / 30g walnuts, chopped and toasted, optional

instructions:

How to cook Roasted Red Pepper and Goat Cheese Pasta

  1. Bring a large pot of water to boil over high heat, adding salt just before water boils. Cook pasta according to instructions on package. Drain pasta and return to pan, reserving a generous 1 cup / 237g of pasta water.
  2. While the pasta is cooking, heat oil in a medium pan over medium heat. Add onion and cook until it begins to soften, about 2-3 minutes. Add garlic and cook for another 1-2 minutes, until fragrant.
  3. Add sliced peppers, thyme, chili powder, turmeric, balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper. Cook until peppers are heated through.
  4. Transfer all of the pepper mixture to a blender and puree until smooth.
  5. Pour half of the roasted red pepper sauce over the pasta and add a bit of the pasta water. Add goat cheese and toss until pasta is well coated and cheese has melted, adding more pasta water to thin out sauce as desired.
  6. Plate pasta and top with toasted walnuts.
  7. Refrigerate remaining half of sauce for up to 2-3 days or freeze.

NOTES:

To roast red peppers yourself, place whole on a heated grill or near an open flame, turning occasionally, until all sides are blistered and start to blacken. You can also roast them on a lined baking sheet in the oven for 30-45 minutes, or very carefully over a gas burner. Once done, place in covered pot, bowl, or re-sealable plastic, anything you can close, to let the peppers steam for about 20-30 minutes. This helps the skin to slip off easily. Then remove stems and seeds, and slice. Proceed as in recipe. If you don’t have fresh thyme available, substitute about a scant teaspoon of dried. Add more chili powder, cayenne, or hot spice of choice for a spicier kick! If you’re in a pinch you don’t have to toast the walnuts, although you miss out on that tasty flavor that comes out of the nut only by toasting. But it will still be delicious! Omit goat cheese or replace with suitable substitute to make vegan and dairy-free.

Calories

240.54

Fat (grams)

10.29

Sat. Fat (grams)

2.79

Carbs (grams)

29.36

Fiber (grams)

2.01

Net carbs

27.40

Sugar (grams)

2.96

Protein (grams)

8.35

Sodium (milligrams)

121.89

Cholesterol (grams)

6.52
Nutritional information is approximate. Based on 6 servings using half of the prepared sauce and includes goat cheese and walnuts.
Created using The Recipes Generator
Now we’re being more honest about a real portion size! :)

Now we’re being more honest about a real portion size! :)


Ratatouille

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Rat patootie.  Ratatouille.  Only one of my favorite Pixar films AND one of my favorite foods.  A cartoon that takes place in Paris, is all about cooking, French accents, chefs, crispy baguettes....ah yes.  Never fails to make me hungry for cheese, saffron (although let's be honest, I've never actually had saffron that I am aware of, even though I bought some in Florence for a steal - UPDATE: as of 2018 I’ve now had saffron and learned how to tell if it’s real!) bread, and maybe some wine.  From the day I first saw it, in the theatre in New York City with my mom back in 2008, I wanted to make ratatouille.  I didn't know what it was before the movie, but Pixar animation made it look delicious.  

After some research and googling, I soon learned that there were many different versions of ratatouille, originally a hearty peasant dish from the region of Provence, France.  (Remember Igor's flashback to his mother's cooking and country home when he firsts tastes the ratatouille?) One source likened it to stew in America.  What kind of stew you ask?  This is exactly the point, as every region and cook in America has their own version of stew, and it can vary widely.  Apparently this is also true of ratatouille.  

After making this many times over the years, I came down to two favorite recipes.  

One involved sautéing the eggplant first for 10 minutes with the spices, then adding it to the bottom of the baking dish. The remaining vegetables were then layered over the eggplant, with a sprinkling of parmesan cheese between each layer of vegetables.

The second involved spreading a seasoned tomato sauce in the bottom of the baking dish and then alternating the vegetables around the dish in a pretty spiral, like it’s served in the film.

I could never decide which version I wanted to make, so finally I combined the two for the best of both worlds.  I omitted sautéing the eggplant, kept the tomato sauce on the bottom, and kept the cheese and the pretty spiral.

That combination is what follows.


Ratatouille

Serves 4-6

Ingredients:

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  • 1 1/2 cups / 355g tomato purée or sauce (unseasoned)

  • 1/2  onion, finely chopped

  • 2 garlic cloves, minced

  • 1 tsp fresh oregano or 1/4 tsp dried

  • 1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes

  • 2 Tbsp / 28g olive oil

  • 8 oz / 240g mushrooms, thinly sliced

  • 1 medium eggplant

  • 1 medium zucchini

  • 1 medium yellow squash

  • 1 bell pepper, optional

  • 1 cup / 110g shredded parmesan cheese

  • fresh or dried thyme

  • salt and pepper, to taste

Directions:

Oven 375°F / 177°C.  Ungreased oval baking dish, about 10in / 25cm long, or 9x13in / 23x33cm pan. 

  1. Add tomato purée to a small bowl.  Stir in onion, garlic, oregano, red pepper flakes, 1 tablespoon of oil, salt, and pepper.  Spread in the bottom of the baking dish.

  2. Layer sliced mushrooms over tomato sauce.

  3. Using a mandolin or chopping by hand, slice eggplant, zucchini, yellow squash, and bell pepper into 1/4 inch slices.

  4. Working in concentric circles, alternate and arrange the vegetables over the mushrooms.  You may have a small handful of misfit vegetables left over.  Save for another use (stir fry!) or lift a layer of your vegetables in the pan and sneak the excess underneath where the eye can't see. 

  5. Drizzle vegetables with remaining tablespoon of oil, season with salt and pepper, and sprinkle cheese evenly over top.  Sprinkle thyme over cheese. 

  6. Bake for 45-55 minutes or until tomato sauce is bubbling around edges of the pan and vegetables are tender when pierced with a knife.  

  7. Eat as is, or served over quinoa, rice, couscous, or with some crusty French bread!

Jenny's Notes:

  • 1 6oz can / 170g tomato paste mixed with 3/4 cup / 170g water can be substituted for the tomato purée.

  • Sometimes I omit the red pepper flakes and use a spicy oil in place of the plain olive oil.

  • If you want to save time assembling the vegetables you can layer them instead of alternating and making circles.  i.e. layer all the eggplant slices, then squash, zucchini, etc.  

  • You could add an extra layer of cheese between the mushrooms and vegetables.  

  • Feel free to add or substitute vegetables! 

Hello, World!

ratatouille, Pixar Ratatouille, thyme, eggplant, zucchini, yellow squash, vegetables, healthy, gluten-free, parmesan cheese, tomato, mushrooms, peasant dish
Lunch, Dinner, Side Dish
French
Yield: 4-6 servings
Author:

Ratatouille

A classic French peasant dish made famous by the Pixar animated film "Ratatouille." This version has a tomato base, plenty of eggplant, zucchini, squash, and mushrooms, with thyme and parmesan cheese. Naturally gluten-free.
prep time: 40 Mcook time: 55 Mtotal time: 95 M

ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups / 355g tomato purée or sauce (unseasoned)
  • 1/2 onion, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tsp fresh oregano or 1/4 tsp dried
  • 1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
  • 2 Tbsp / 28g olive oil
  • 8 oz / 240g mushrooms, thinly sliced
  • 1 medium eggplant
  • 1 medium zucchini
  • 1 medium yellow squash
  • 1 bell pepper, optional
  • 1 cup / 110g shredded parmesan cheese
  • fresh or dried thyme
  • salt and pepper, to taste

instructions:

How to cook Ratatouille

  1. Oven 375°F / 177°C. Ungreased oval baking dish, about 10in / 25cm long, or 9x13in / 23x33cm pan.
  2. Add tomato purée to a small bowl. Stir in onion, garlic, oregano, red pepper flakes, 1 tablespoon of oil, salt, and pepper. Spread in the bottom of the baking dish.
  3. Layer sliced mushrooms over tomato sauce.
  4. Using a mandolin or chopping by hand, slice eggplant, zucchini, yellow squash, and bell pepper into 1/4 inch slices.
  5. Working in concentric circles, alternate and arrange the vegetables over the mushrooms. You may have a small handful of misfit vegetables left over. Save for another use (stir fry!) or lift a layer of your vegetables in the pan and sneak the excess underneath where the eye can't see.
  6. Drizzle vegetables with remaining tablespoon of oil, season with salt and pepper, and sprinkle cheese evenly over top. Sprinkle thyme over cheese.
  7. Bake for 45-55 minutes or until tomato sauce is bubbling around edges of the pan and vegetables are tender when pierced with a knife.
  8. Eat as is, or served over quinoa, rice, couscous, or with some crusty French bread!

NOTES:

1 6oz can / 170g tomato paste mixed with 3/4 cup / 170g water can be substituted for the tomato purée. Sometimes I omit the red pepper flakes and use a spicy oil in place of the plain olive oil. If you want to save time assembling the vegetables you can layer them instead of alternating and making circles. i.e. layer all the eggplant slices, then squash, zucchini, etc. You could add an extra layer of cheese between the mushrooms and vegetables. Feel free to add or substitute vegetables!

Calories

319.11

Fat (grams)

15.92

Sat. Fat (grams)

6.00

Carbs (grams)

33.75

Fiber (grams)

9.15

Net carbs

24.60

Sugar (grams)

15.12

Protein (grams)

16.35

Sodium (milligrams)

571.85

Cholesterol (grams)

19.80
Nutritional information is approximate and based on 4 servings.
Created using The Recipes Generator
IMG_4693.JPG

Baked Egg Baguettes

Happiness is, a good piece of bread and a stairway in Paris.

Happiness is, a good piece of bread and a stairway in Paris.

"How can you tell how good bread is without tasting it? Not the smell, not the look, but the sound of the crust. Listen. [bread crackles] Oh, symphony of crackle. Only great bread sound this way."             - Colette, Ratatouille

Disclaimer: This is not a bread recipe, but it involves using your favorite crusty bread...think baguettes, with their wonderful crisp outside, soft and chewy inside...oh yes.  I have not been everywhere in the world or tried all the bread, not even close, but of the places I have been, France has the best bread.  And pastries.  And butter.  And lots of other things.  The best part?  You can go to just about any bakery, even the world renowned, and never pay more than 1.50 euro.  That's less than $2 for the world's best bread.  Unfortunately I'm not in France right now, so a package of demi-baguettes will have to do for this recipe. 

Baked Egg Baguettes

Serves 4-8 (depending on if you want to eat a whole mini baguette or cut them in half)

Ingredients:

  • 4 demi-baguettes
  • 5 eggs
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 1/4 small white onion, diced
  • 2-3 green onions, chopped
  • 3 oz smoked Gouda cheese, shredded
  • salt and pepper, to taste

Directions:

Oven 350 Fahrenheit

Cut out the middle of each baguette, making a V shape, you can pretend like you're carving out a canoe.  Enter inner Pocahontas. 

Whisk together eggs and milk, beating lightly.  Add in onion, green onion, and half of the cheese.  Lightly salt and pepper.  Divide evenly among the baguettes.  Top each with the remaining cheese. 

Place on a baking sheet or dish and bake for 20-25 minutes, until golden and the center is set and slightly puffed up.  Allow to cool for a few minutes, then slice and serve. 

Jenny's Notes:

This is a very quick and easy recipe to execute, and yummy!  You can add or adjust the add ins as you wish.  I also enjoy adding chopped spinach, mushrooms, diced red or green onion, or sun-dried tomatoes.  Also use your favorite cheese for the filling and topping! 

Adapted from Spoon Fork Bacon