I’m usually a bit suspicious of sauces made with bell peppers, because they tend to have a rather bitter and unpleasant taste. Roasting the peppers is a good way to avoid this problem and add a layer of smokiness, but I have to admit I avoid the process of roasting peppers myself like the plague. For some reason, it always ends up such a mess – the peppers first come out of the oven in all their roasted glory, but when I set out to peel them, it goes downhill from there. What I am left with is a battlefield of shriveled up peel that sticks to my fingers like glue, and pieces of bell pepper that are smashed beyond recognition. Not a good idea. I don’t like store bought roasted peppers either though, because they just don’t taste that good and have a strange “preserved” texture to them.
Enter this wonderful sweet bell pepper cream. No roasting or peeling required at all, and the best part? The sauce is incredibly creamy, yet there’s not a lick of cream in it! And making it couldn’t be any simpler. Just simmer onions, tomatoes, and bell peppers in extra virgin olive oil and water until they are tender and the water has evaporated, give it a few spins in a blender, and voila, you have an exquisite sauce for spaghetti!
The subtle sweetness of the bell pepper sauce forms a lovely background for the sharp arugula and the salty Speck in this dish. It’s great with some crusty Italian bread, and a nice glass of red wine. If you need inspiration for picking a good bottle of red, head on over to Stevie and Heguiberto’s great blog, Weird Combinations where you’ll find lots of fun reviews of (Californian) vineries and their liquid products!
Spaghetti With A Sweet Pepper Cream, Arugula, And Speck (serves 4)
200g red bell pepper, cut into small cubes
100g red onion, thinly sliced
100g cherry tomatoes, cut in half
4 slices Tyrolean Speck
extra virgin olive oil
1. Heat 3 tablespoons olive oil in a casserole pan and add onions and peppers.
2. Sautee over high heat for about 2 minutes, stirring.
3. Add tomatoes and 500ml water.
4. Salt to taste and let simmer uncovered until peppers are tender and the water has evaporated.
5. Blend in a blender until creamy.
6. Cook spaghetti al dente in plenty of boiling and salted water.
7. Drain spaghetti. Do not rinse.
8. Mix sauce and pasta in the same pot you cooked the spaghetti in.
9. Divide spaghetti among plates, and top each plate with a slice of Speck and a few stems of arugula.