Pasta with Peppers and Mozzarella
Here’s a simple pasta dish which has a luxurious, special occasion feel to it. I’ve, ahem, adapted it from Nigel Slater, my favourite chef’s, magnificent The 30-Minute Cook. Now he cheats and uses peppers ready grilled from a jar. I can’t stand them, so I roast and peel my own, which obviously takes longer. You are more than welcome to cheat if you prefer. He also recommends pappardelle , the lovely thick ribbon pasta, to go with it. Now, another of my favourite chefs, Marcella Hazan, is very particular about which kind of pasta goes with which type of sauce. Probably because I'm not Italian, I'm less so. This time round I happened to have some garganelli, a sort of fancy penne shape, in plain and spinach flavours, which I thought would work. It did.
To serve two, you will need:
Pappardelle, garganelli (as pictured) or the pasta of your choice
Two red peppers (or ready cooked ones from a jar)
Juice of ½ lemon
1 tbsp capers, rinsed
4 anchovy fillets
Butter or olive oil
1 ball Mozzarella cheese, cubed
A handful of black olives
***Re: breadcrumbs: please don’t even think about using those vile, ready-made bright orange things that look like goldfish food. If you’re not prepared to make your own, just omit them altogether.
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Here's what you do
- If using fresh peppers, turn your oven up to 200 C or 400 F and place the whole peppers inside. About forty minutes later the skins should be blackened. Take them out carefully and place in a plastic bag to cool down for a few minutes. Closing the bag on them will make the skin come off much more easily.
- Put the water on for the pasta; putting the lid on the pan makes it boil faster. (Such a small point but I’ve only relatively recently discovered this.)
- Now, make your breadcrumbs. I’m quite a lazy chef (you may already have noticed this from my other hubs) and I honestly can’t be bothered to drag out the blender and make space for it on a work surface in order to whiz up some breadcrumbs. But if you can do all this, then go ahead. Lazily, I just chop a bit of bread up with a knife and have done with it. In a large pan, pour a dollop of olive oil (you could use butter – I just never have any) and fry your breadcrumbs, until they’re golden but not burnt. Put them in a bowl for later.
- By now your water is probably boiling, so add a little salt and then the pasta of your choice. Pappardelle, garganelli or penne all work well.
the peppers and slice (or tear) them into strips. Try not to burn your fingers while doing so. Add them to the pan along with the
lemon juice, capers, parsley and anchovy fillets and stir over a gentle
heat. I find the anchovy fillets break up in the heat, so I don't usually bother to chop them beforehand. (Lazy again, I know.)
- Once the pasta’s cooked, drain and add to the pan. Next, throw in your olives (you could de-stone them if you can be bothered – guess what, I usually don’t), the mozzarella and the breadcrumbs. Stir it all to combine, and maybe add some black pepper.
As I said, a meal that feels luxurious but is really pretty simple. Enjoy!!
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