Monday, October 25, 2010

Pasta Bake with Roasted Red Pepper & Garlic Sauce

Upon reading that today was 'World Pasta Day', I came up with a grand scheme to use up a whole bunch of vegetables that had been hanging around in the fridge for a while. Dinner tonight had 2 components (meat/sauce & pasta/veggies) but I'll start off with the sauce which was inspired from the recipe found on this website. As I followed it pretty loosely, I'm just going to give it to you as I did it instead of what I changed from the original. Here goes:

Roasted Red Pepper & Garlic Sauce
2 red bell peppers, roasted (instructions follow)
1 clove garlic, roasted
2 sun dried tomatoes, soaked for about 15 minutes in water. Reserve soaking liquid
1 Tbl. balsamic vinegar
1 1/2 tsp. dried oregano
1 tsp. dried basil
Handful of spinach
salt and pepper to taste

If you have never roasted red peppers before, the following instructions from the original recipe are pretty simple to follow. This was only my second attempt and it was much more successful than the first (which didn't even make it to the blog).

To roast peppers and garlic:
Cut peppers in half lengthwise. Remove stems, seeds and ribs. Peel garlic cloves carefully, you want to remove the papery husk without scoring up the clove.

Place peppers, skin side up and garlic cloves on a heavy baking sheet or glass or metal pan that can withstand the heat from the broiler. A pan with sides is best, because a baking sheet can warp from the heat. Place under broiler, and broil until the skin turns black and is pulling away from the peppers. Check the garlic cloves occasionally, and turn them over once. Remove when they are brown and slightly shriveled, but not dried out. The garlic will be done before the peppers. When peppers are blackened, place them in a paper bag while still steaming and sizzling and fold over the top.
Let them sit until they are cool. They will have steamed soft in the bag, and the skins will peel right off.

Once you've got your roasted red peppers and garlic done, combine them with your spices, tomato and balsamic vinegar in a large bowl. Since I was using my immersion blender I had to add the liquid from the tomatoes at this point as well or else everything would splash up onto my face/shirt..... so be sure to put an apron on!! Blend until desired consistency - add more liquid depending on how thick/thin you want the sauce to be. Once I had all of that blended, I decided to throw in a handful of spinach and whip it in there.

Now your sauce is done!

While that was blending that away, I had ground turkey browning on the stove. Once it was cooked, I added my sauce and let it simmer. Here's what it looked like at this point:
In another pot on the stove I had some brown rice pasta boiling away. Once it was about 2 minutes away from being perfect, I put some broccoli and asparagus pieces in the water for the remaining time.

Once the pasta and vegetables are complete, drain them and add to the skillet with the meat and sauce. Combine gently and pour the whole thing into a casserole dish. Top with a little bit of mozzarella and parmesan and put in the oven at 350 for about 10-15 minutes. It may (or may not) look like this when it comes out:
MY REVIEW: This meal pleased me! I've never made a blended pasta sauce before.. I'd always taken the "rustic" approach. The sauce is comprised strictly of vegetables and herbs and it tasted great. It would be suitable for someone on a low-fat diet or a lactose-free diet or a celiac or a diabetic or a vegetarian.... (my fans are an interesting and diverse bunch!). Once mixed into the whole thing, the flavor of the sauce was comfortably present but not overpowering. I'm stoked at the amount of vegetables I was able to cram into this gluten-free dish and it could easily be done with or without meat/cheese according to your tastes.

JASON'S REVIEW: It was very tasty and filling.

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