I am happy to announce that red bell peppers will soon be back in season. Full of vitamin C, lycopene and carotene, fresher and sweeter red peppers will soon be available to all of us who brave the winter. This is sort of irrelevant to me, however, since I like red peppers so much that I eat them year round, even though they may have been imported from some far-flung place. My inconvenient truth regarding red peppers is that after all of the growing, picking, packing, shipping, trucking, refrigerating, washing, and waxing that is required to deliver me red peppers during the winter, they probably have the carbon footprint of a minivan.
Of course, I roast the peppers myself, mainly because I’ve never tasted a roasted pepper from a can or a jar that is worth eating (slimy, flavorless, unidentifiable juice…in such a state that not even olive oil can save them). We keep a bottomless supply of roasted peppers at home because (like spinach) I think they are a good companion to almost any food: meat, fish, fowl, eggs, mozzarella, bread, etc. And, of course, pasta.
Heat the oven to 400° F. Cover a heavy- duty baking tray with foil. Cut the peppers in half, length-wise, wash, and remove the seeds and membranes. Place the peppers, cut-side down, on the baking tray and drizzle with olive oil. Place in oven for 30-45 minutes, until the skin is dark brown or partially blackened. Remove from oven and place immediately in a metal or glass bowl, and cover with foil or a large plate. Allow the peppers to steam in the bowl for 15-30 minutes, to let the skin loosen further. Remove the skin, slice the peppers into strips, and place in another bowl. Drizzle with olive oil, some salt and pepper. Add the remaining pepper juice from the first bowl.
In a large skillet over medium heat sauté the garlic in ¼ cup olive oil until golden. Add the peppers and their juice and cook for an additional 10-15 minutes untilder tender but not soft.
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.
Cook the pasta until al dente (about 2 minutes less than the package directions). Drain, and add it to the skillet containing the peppers, and cook for 1 minute. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Serve with grated Parmigiano.
Ed Garrubbo, Editor.