One thing I’ve been dying to do once the tomatoes started coming in and really taste good was to walk over to the big Baltimore Farmer’s Market on a Sunday morning and get some heirlooms or other interesting-looking ones to take home. Unfortunately, either to us traveling or Michael going to the gym late, that didn’t happen until one of the last Sundays when tomatoes would be good, and even then we were walking in there at 11:57 when the market technically ended at noon. Thankfully I was still able to get some tomatoes along with some Kirby cucumbers and four fantastic orange peppers before all of the vendors were gone, and I was able to get a good deal on the peppers to boot: 2 for a buck.
When I saw the peppers I was instantly reminded of a pasta dish I hadn’t made in years, one that was always a favorite in New Haven back when I would pick up some good peppers at Romeo and Cesare’s on a whim and then follow along with the recipe in The Silver Spoon, (oh, how that book is getting some love again after too long a time). Like so many of the recipes in the book, the ingredient list is short, and there isn’t much to do–it’s all about cooking down onions and garlic before cooking the peppers to a nice, tender consistency before blending all of it into a sauce that gets tossed with your pasta of choice. The book calls for bucatini, which is good, but this time around I got some casarecce because I felt like it and the sauce coated the pasta really, really well.
While this dish might be best in the late summer and early fall, if you can get your hands on some peppers now, scoop them up and make this right away.. Red or orange (or a mix of both) are preferable, unless you really, really like the bitterness of the green pepper and want to explore that–in that case, have fun with that.
Casarecce with Bell Pepper Sauce
Adapted from The Silver Spoon
4 red or orange peppers, seeded and sliced
2 shallots, minced
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 teaspoons rosemary, minced
1 lb casarecce pepper
Freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, for serving
Heat the olive oil over medium-low heat, and cook the shallots and garlic until soft and slightly browned, about 10 minutes. Add the peppers and cook until tender, or about 10 to 15 minutes. Empty the pan into a food processor or work bowl for a stick blender and puree until smooth, then add back into the saute pan, adding the rosemary. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a boil, salt with a couple tablespoons of salt, and cook the pasta for about 8 minutes before draining and finishing off the pasta in the sauce for a minute or two before serving immediately with lots of Parmigiano-Reggiano.