Roasted Pepper and Garlic Pesto with Whole Grain Pasta
Citrus zest is your secret ingredient in this pasta dish, a sweet and creamy ending cools the heat from the chili flakes in the pesto.
- 1 bulb garlic, top end cut to expose cloves
- Extra virgin olive oil (EVOO), for drizzling, plus about 4 tablespoons
- Salt and pepper
- 3-4 mild, long field peppers or bell peppers (red or red and yellow)
- 1 cup walnut pieces or hazelnuts, peeled and chopped
- 1/2 cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, plus some for passing at table
- A handful of basil
- A fat handful of flat leaf parsley
- A pinch of red pepper flakes
- 1 tablespoon citrus zest, lemon or orange
- 1 pound whole wheat, whole grain or farro short cut pasta, such as penne or gemelli
- About 3 tablespoons mascarpone, crème fraiche or heavy cream
- Pre-heat the oven to 425°F. Drizzle the garlic bulb with the EVOO and season with salt and pepper. Wrap in the foil pouch and roast until tender, about 40 minutes. Remove and cool.
- Char the peppers under the broiler with the oven door ajar to let the steam escape. When blackened evenly all over, remove and cool in a covered dish or bowl to handle. Peel and seed the peppers.
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil for the pasta.
- Toast the nuts in a small pan over medium heat until fragrant and toasted.
- Place the peppers in a food processor with half the nuts. Squish the garlic from the skins and add to the processor with half a cup of the cheese, salt, pepper, basil, parsley, citrus zest and chili flakes. Pulse chop, then stream in about 1/4 cup good EVOO to form the pesto. Taste to adjust the seasoning.
- Salt the pasta water and cook the pasta to al dente. Reserve 1 cup of the starchy cooking water, then drain the pasta.
- In a warm serving bowl, combine the mascarpone, crème fraiche or cream with half the starchy cooking water and the pesto. Add the pasta and toss and coat, using the remaining water as needed to cover the pasta with sauce evenly. Serve topped with the remaining toasted nuts and cheese at the table.