Sense of Home
One of my gardening goals last summer was to grow vegetables I had never grown before. I succeeded in growing for the first time both eggplant and red bell peppers. I have tried to grow bell peppers in colors other than green, but our growing season is short and I would end up with just a spot of color before first frost. This past summer the conditions were just right for bell peppers and I had some bright red globes. They weren't large, but they were sweet and juicy, and I had grown them.
The peppers I used in this dish are not from our garden, we ate them long ago. I was wandering in the produce section of the grocery store while on lunch break last week, looking for some inspiration for dinner. Peppers of every color were on sale and, along with some broccoli, they looked like the freshest of the vegetables. Bell peppers are not spicy hot at all, they contain a recessive gene that eliminates capsaisin, the compound responsible for the heat in other peppers. Bell peppers are sweet when grown in good conditions, moist, but not soggy, if conditions are too dry they will be bitter. Peppers are sweeter as they turn from green to red, yellow, or orange. There are even purple and chocolate colored bell peppers, though I have not seen these in the store and they require 70 to 75 days of warm to hot growing conditions, which we typically don't have.
The yellow peppers give this cream sauce a very pretty color and a mild sweet pepper flavor, and those Baby Bella mushrooms sauted are oh, so good. When blending the sauce be sure to hold a towel over the blender lid and hold it on firmly as the liquid will be hot, also, because it is hot, make sure your blender is not too full, blending in batches if need be.
Baked Penne with Mushrooms, Peppers, and Parmesan
~adapted slightly from Gourmet, January 1998~
3 large yellow bell peppers (about 1 1/2 pounds)
1 large onion
3 garlic cloves
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup whole milk
1 1/2 pounds mushrooms
2 medium red bell peppers
2 medium orange bell peppers
1 pound penne pasta
8 scallions (green part only)
2 cups freshly grated Parmesan (about 6 ounces)
Chop yellow bell peppers and onion and mince garlic. In a 3- to 4-quart heavy saucepan cook yellow peppers, onion, and garlic in 1 tablespoon oil, covered, over moderately low heat, stirring occasionally, until peppers are soft, about 30 minutes. Stir in cream and milk. In a blender puree mixture in batches (use caution when blending hot liquids), transfer to a large bowl, and season with salt and pepper. (Sauce may be made 2 days ahead and chilled, covered. Bring sauce to room temperature before proceeding.)
Thinly slice mushrooms lengthwise and cut red and orange bell peppers into 1/4-inch-wide strips. In a deep large heavy skillet cook mushrooms and peppers in remaining 2 tablespoons oil over moderately high heat, stirring occasionally, until peppers are softened and most of the liquid is evaporated, about 8 minutes, and season with salt and pepper.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
Fill a 6- to 7-quart kettle three fourths full with salted water and bring to a boil. Stir in penne and cook until just tender, about 10 minutes. Reserve 1 cup pasta cooking water and drain penne well in a colander. Rinse penne and drain well. Thinly slice scallion greens. Into sauce stir penne, mushroom mixture, scallion greens, 1 1/2 cups Parmesan, reserved cooking water, and salt and pepper to taste. Spoon mixture into a 3-quart shallow baking dish and sprinkle with remaining 1/2 cup Parmesan.
Bake penne in middle of oven until hot and pasta begins to brown, about 20 minutes.
Sense of Home / Recipes / Pasta
This post is linked to:
Just Another Meatless Monday
Slightly Indulgent Tuesday
Dr. Laura's Tasty Tuesday