This is my favourite pasta dish when I’m low on time but craving the comfy solace of something that tastes as though it’s been cooked long and slow. If you don’t love my Easy Roasted Red Pepper Pancetta Pasta, you just haven’t made it yet.
This ridiculously creamy, super speedy red pepper pasta sauce can be made with or without the meat component—I love the saltiness the pancetta adds, but toasted pine nuts or quick roasted pumpkin seeds (see the easy tutorial here), do brilliantly for a crispy, salty kick.
I use both freshly roasted bell peppers and ready-roasted peppers in a jar because they each bring something different to the final sauce. The fresh has the sweet pepper smokiness, while the jarred has the piquant tang from the pickling juices. If you only have one or the other, simply double the amount for the sauce.
Top Tips for Cooking Pasta
Cool salty, slow and large.
I think it was Anthony Bourdain, in Kitchen Confidential, who first inducted me into the art of cooking pasta properly. The three tenets that stuck with me most memorably (alongside the gastronomic libertine’s many detailed escapades) was that you should always use a large enough pot, salt the water generously, and observe patience; too fast and your pasta with clump, and cook unevenly.
Don’t drain. Yet.
Once your pasta is done, reserve a small ramekin of the cooking water, adding it to your sauce to help emulsify the ingredients, making everything silky and smooth.Print
A creamy, speedy, red pepper pasta sauce that’s loaded with bright, rich flavours. Uber #comfortfood right here!
- 6 cloves garlic
- 3 medium red bell peppers
- Olive oil, for drizzling
- 500g spaghetti, or other pasta of choice
- 460g jar of roasted red peppers
- 300g diced pancetta (or bacon lardons)
- 250g soft goat’s cheese
- Small handful freshly torn basil
- Sea salt and black pepper, to taste
- Preheat oven to 180C / 375F / Gas Mark 4. Slice bell peppers in half lengthways, and nestle a garlic clove (unpeeled) in each half. Season with sea salt and black pepper, and lightly drizzle with olive oil. Roast for approximately 15-20 minutes, until fragrant and beginning to wrinkle and blister at the edges.
- Meanwhile, cook spaghetti, or other pasta, according to packet instructions, reserving around a quarter cup of the cooking water once done. Bathe spaghetti in a glug of olive oil and toss to coat. Set aside.
- Next, remove roasted garlic cloves from their skins—a little slice at the tips and you should be able to squeeze out the clove paste. Toss in the food processor, along with the freshly roasted bell peppers. Then add the jarred red peppers (drain first!). Blitz until smooth, or until sauce reaches your preferred consistency. Set aside.
- In a large saucepan or skillet, fry the pancetta on medium high heat until crispy. With a slotted spoon, remove cooked pancetta and set aside, leaving fat in the pan. Turn heat to medium and add the goat’s cheese and reserved pasta water to the pan. Stir until smooth. Add the red pepper sauce. Continue to stir until well combined. Season with sea salt and black pepper, to taste.
- Pour sauce over pasta, tossing well to coat. Serve heaped in bowls, top with crispy pancetta and freshly torn basil.