Saturday, 27 January 2018

Penne with Charred Red Pepper, Basil and Kalamata Olive Sauce

This chunky sauce was tossed with penne as a side to roasted chicken, grape tomatoes and cauliflower. It was also a way for me to make use of the abundance of red peppers in the fridge, a tablespoon of pinenuts and some fresh basil that was starting to wilt. Combining all of these flavours with some grated Parmesan and Kalamata olives, fresh garlic, extra virgin olive oil and Balsamic vinegar brought the Mediterranean into our house...the sauce is chunky, full of colour, texture and fresh bright flavours associated with warmer climates. It is quick and easy to make, and even easier to eat!

I started by roasting three of my peppers, using one for this and saving the other two for another meal.

While your pasta is cooking, you can assemble the sauce. It is a fresh sauce, needing no cooking, other than the heat from the pasta to warm it through. What could be easier than that?

Start by combining:

1 roasted red pepper, finely chopped
4 pitted Kalamata olives, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced


1/4 cup fresh basil, finely chopped
1 tablespoon toasted pinenuts, roughly chopped

Stir in:

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons Balsamic vinegar

Season to taste with salt and fresh ground black pepper.

Stir in:

1/4 cup grated fresh Parmesan.

Set aside until the pasta has finished cooking.

When the penne is cooked, drain, reserving about 2 tablespoons of the cooking water. Return the pasta and cooking water to the pot.

Add the sauce to the pot and stir to combine.

Serve the pasta, as a main course, or as a a side dish as I did...together with a roasted chicken breast, grape tomatoes and cauliflower. Garnish with more grated Parmesan if you wish.

  • Fresh, chunky sauces are great to use when cooking pasta in the summer, as it is one less pot on the stove in the heat. They are also good in that all of the freshness in the ingredients is retained, and none is lost through cooking.
  • Other ideas for fresh sauces are to peel, seed and chop fresh, ripe tomatoes in season and combine them with other ingredients such as fresh herbs, olives and garlic. Toss together chopped capers, olives, anchovies, garlic and basil. Finely chop garlic, pinenuts, basil and fresh spinach, toss with olive oil and Parmesan.
  • This pasta can be eaten as a salad; add sliced cooked chicken if you want. 
  • Purchased roasted red peppers can be used instead of roasting your own.
  • Make extra sauce and use it on sandwhiches, pizza in wraps or serve it with a cheese plate.

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