I created this lusty dish last week when my stepson, Ethan Peck, squeezed in a dinner with us before heading to Milan. He stars in a 2 minute video for the luxury fashion company Ferragamo, and he was invited to make an appearance at Italian fashion week. Having little warning about his visit with us, I looked in my fridge and cupboards for inspiration, and this recipe was born.
Power Pasta had just sent me a bag of their newly reformulated red lentil pasta to sample. I’m a fan of this gluten free (and vegan) product, and the new version is made from healthful red lentils and water, and nothing else. It’s rich in protein, bone-building calcium, fiber, and several other vitamins and minerals. Best of all, when cooked no longer than 7½ minutes it offered a clean taste and pleasing firm bite, and was perfect in this wintry dish. (When cooked longer it can become softer than traditional semolina pasta.)
This recipe is ridiculously easy to put together: just mix all the ingredients for the sauce in a baking dish and pop in the oven for an hour. Enticing aromas will soon fill the kitchen, and in an hour the roasting tomatoes, peppers, shallots, and herbs, bathed in extra-virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar, will be transformed into an intense, colorful, and satisfying sauce.
Featuring sugar plum tomatoes and mini peppers, which are tasty year around, this is a cheerful dinner for a cold, rainy evening. To offer a fresh contrast to the rich pasta, I crown each serving with a mound of wild arugula tossed with oil and vinegar. The recipe serves four; smaller families might be happy to learn that leftovers reheat well in the microwave.
We are eager to hear about Ethan’s trip to Milan over a meal this weekend. I’ll plan on serving food that shows off the stunning California olive oils I recently discovered. Stay tuned.
Pasta with Roasted Tomatoes and Mini Peppers
- 1 pound sugar plum tomatoes, grape tomatoes, or cherry tomatoes
- ½ pound mini peppers such as Veggie Sweets, ends trimmed, halved lengthwise, seeded, cut into ¾-inch pieces
- 3 large shallots, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced crosswise, or ½ large red onion, cut into thirds lengthwise and thinly sliced crosswise
- ½ cup plus 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 3 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
- 2 tablespoons minced fresh marjoram or 1 tablespoon dried marjoram
- ½ teaspoon coarse kosher salt
- ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 3 cups packed arugula (3 to 4 ounces)
- 12 ounces penne pasta, such at Power Pasta Red Lentil Penne
- ½ cup chopped fresh basil
- ½ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
- Preheat the oven to 325°F. Combine the tomatoes, mini peppers, and shallots in a 13×9-inch glass baking dish. Pour ½ cup oil over. Mix in 3 tablespoons of the vinegar, marjoram, salt, red pepper flakes, and black pepper. Place in the oven and roast until the tomatoes collapse and flavors are rich, stirring once or twice, about 1 hour.
- Place the arugula in a salad bowl. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon oil and toss to coat. Season with salt and pepper. Add the remaining 1 teaspoon vinegar and toss.
- Cook the pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water until just tender but still firm to the bite, about 7½ minutes . Reserve ½ cup of the cooking liquid, then drain the pasta. Add the pasta to the baking dish with the sauce and mix to coat. Mix in the basil and Parmesan cheese, and then enough of the reserved water to moisten the sauce. Divide the pasta among 4 plates. Top with the arugula and serve.