Since 1948, Talley Farms has been growing fresh produce in Arroyo Grande, and in 2012 they launched their terrific harvest in a box program. With convenient pick-up locations around San Luis Obispo County, they deliver a taste of in-season crops. This past week they produced cartons full of carrots, radishes, artichokes, yellow beans, heirloom tomatoes, green leaf lettuce, basil, green grapes, raspberries, avocados, lemons, bell peppers, as well as delicata and yellow squash varieties. Most of their allotment comes from their own farm, some is sourced from other local Caifornia growers, and a lot of what ends up in the box is organic. Works for me.
The red and green bell peppers I received in my shipment were the largest I've ever seen (these two giants were the equivalent of four regular sized), and I knew what I had to do: roast and char these beauties to bring out their distinctive flavors. Below is a recipe that my brother—an accomplished home cook who lives miles away in Europe—made for my family when visiting a few years ago. Here is my version of his wonderful pasta dish.
SLO PEPPERS 'N PASTA RECIPE
Serves 2 - 4
4 roasted bell peppers (different colors are fine)
1 handful fresh basil leaves (stems included—just rip off a handful from a large bunch)
1 handful freshly grated Parmesan cheese (roughly 1/3 cup)
1/4 - 1/2 cup heavy cream
I - 2 garlic cloves, pressed (optional)
Salt & pepper to taste
12 oz. dried penne pasta
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
Set your oven on broil. Place your whole, washed bell peppers on a baking sheet to roast under the heat. The amount of time will vary depending on the size of your peppers, but expect anywhere between 15 - 30 minutes. Watch the peppers carefully, turning with tongs as each side starts to char and blacken. You will know when they're done as they will be evenly charred on all sides, their juices will start to leak, and they will be soft to the touch with the tongs.
Remove from the oven and place in a glass bowl, then cover with saran wrap. This will cause the peppers to steam, the bowl will collect any juices, and 20 - 30 minutes later when they are cool enough to handle, you can peel the skin off. When you discard the skin, pull out the stem and scoop out any seeds you find. Whatever you do, don't rinse them off in water—this washes away flavor.
When the peppers are ready to be peeled, heat up water to boil the pasta. After peeling the peppers, place the flesh in a blender (as well as any juices from the bowl) with a bit of salt and pepper, 1/4 cup of cream, and a handful each of the basil and cheese. Add the pressed garlic if you'd like a bit of zing. Blend until well incorporated and taste. This is one of those recipes where you need to adjust until you please your palate. The consistency should be slightly thick and taste absolutely delicious when you taste-test with a spoon. Add more seasonings and/or cream if desired.
Cook the pasta according to package directions for al dente consistency. When pasta is done, drain and then add back to the pan with the olive oil and pepper sauce. Stir and heat through for a few minutes. Serve garnished with a bit of basil.
|SLO Peppers 'n Pasta. An easy decision.|