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Recipe: Make This Easy Creamy Red Pepper Pasta Sauce For a Midweek Dinner

Learn how to make this creamy red pepper pasta sauce that is bright and full of flavour

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By Bon Appetit US | May 30, 2024 | Recipes

The sauce is the most versatile, delicious, and kinda impressive condiment I make (at least weekly) during the months when those sweet, crunchy bulbs are ripe for the cookin’. Slow roasted red peppers and onions are blitzed in a blender with fresh herbs before being tossed with curly cavatappi. The pasta dish is my favorite way to eat this sauce—glossy noods in rich, velvety goodness—but any leftovers make for a fun and fancy bottom-of-the-plate swoosh upon which to serve buttery white fish, grilled lamb chops, or roasted broccoli.

But, as I transition from T-shirts to turtlenecks and the farmers market is all pumpkins and cider, it feels wrong to buy those season-defying tricolour pepper packets from the supermarket. So I’ll head over to the canned-everything aisle instead, where jewel-toned pickles and preserves twinkle away under fluorescent light. With just a few heavy-hitting pantry staples—anchovies, sun-dried tomatoes, nut butter, and charred-at-their-peak peppers—I can re-create my favourite autumn pasta sauce in a matter of literal minutes. No oven (and no special autumn-only produce) necessary!

How to Make this Creamy Red Pepper Pasta

Boil 1 lb. pasta—like cavatappi, fusilli, or reginetti; anything short and funky that the sauce will stick to—in salted water for a minute less than the instructions recommend. Drain and reserve about two cups pasta cooking water.

Strain the liquid from a 16-oz. jar of roasted red peppers. (Note: With this being the main ingredient, quality is key here. Opt for whole red peppers with visible signs of char, like Divina’s.)

Add the peppers to a blender with 4 Tbsp. cashew butter (or almond if you can’t get it/don’t want to hand over your life savings); 7 oil-packed sun-dried tomato pieces (plus 2 Tbsp. oil); 4 anchovies; ½ oz. fresh basil leaves (about a handful); 1 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes; 2 garlic cloves; and 1 cup pasta water. (If you want to make sauce without pasta, you can use tap water here instead.)

Blend on high until the sauce is smooth. Add kosher salt and black pepper to taste.

Return your cooked pasta to the pot you boiled it in and pour in about half of the blender sauce. Keep adding glugs until each noodle is fully slicked.

Turn the burner on to low heat, add ½ cup pasta water, and stir gently until it’s mostly evaporated. Add ½ cup grated Parmesan and another ½ cup pasta water, then keep stirring to combine. The cheese should be fully incorporated and the sauce clinging to the pasta.

Store any leftover sauce in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a week.

For me, a pile of red pepper pasta and a glass of Tempranillo needs nothing or no one, but if you’re hankering for a salad, simple, vinegary greens are the perfect sidekick. Thanks to jarred peppers, this autumnal favourite never goes out of style. Neither do my turtlenecks.

This story originally appeared on Bon Appetit US.