Pasta With Caramelized Peppers, Anchovies and Ricotta
Caramelized slivers of soft bell peppers and whole cloves of garlic serve as the sweet vegetable-based sauce for this summery pasta. The ricotta gives everything creaminess and body, while herbs and scallions lend freshness, and anchovies depth. If you have an open bottle of wine on hand, you can add a splash to deglaze the tasty browned bits on the bottom of the pan. But don’t bother opening something new: A little water or dry vermouth does the trick nearly as well.
- Serves: 4 persons
- Kosher salt
- 12ounces short pasta, such as radiatori, fusilli or campanelle
- 3tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
- 8to 10 anchovy fillets, chopped, or use a dash or two of soy sauce
- 2large rosemary sprigs
- 6garlic cloves, smashed and peeled
- Large pinch of red-pepper flakes
- 2sweet bell peppers (red, orange or yellow), thinly sliced
- 2tablespoons dry red, white or rosé wine, or use dry vermouth or water
- 1tablespoon unsalted butter
- Fresh lemon juice
- ½cup fresh ricotta
- 2scallions, thinly sliced, or 1/4 cup sliced red onion
- Freshly ground black pepper
- ¼cup finely chopped fresh mint, basil or thyme, plus torn mint or basil leaves and tender sprigs, for garnish
- Freshly grated Parmesan (optional)
Step 1Bring a large pot of heavily salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook, according to package instructions, until the pasta is just al dente.
Step 2As pasta cooks, heat a large sauté pan over medium-high, and add 3 tablespoons olive oil. When the oil is hot, add the anchovies and rosemary, and sauté until the anchovies start to dissolve, about 1 minute. Add the garlic and red-pepper flakes, and sauté until the garlic turns pale golden in spots, about 1 to 2 minutes.
Step 3Add the bell peppers and a large pinch of salt to the pan, and sauté until the bell peppers are very soft and well caramelized, 10 to 15 minutes, lowering the heat if the peppers start becoming too dark. Add the wine (or water) and the butter, and sauté, scraping up the browned bits on the bottom of the pan. Taste and season with lemon juice and more salt as needed.
Step 4Put 1/4 cup ricotta and the scallions in a large serving bowl, and season aggressively with black pepper.
Step 5Use a coffee mug or measuring cup to scoop about 1/2 cup pasta water from the pot. Drain the pasta, then add it to the bowl with the ricotta and scallions, tossing well. Add the bell pepper mixture and the herbs, and toss well, adding a splash or two of pasta water if the mixture looks dry. Taste and season with more salt if needed.
Step 6Spoon pasta into bowls, and top with dollops of the remaining 1/4 cup ricotta, a drizzle of oil and a little Parmesan, if you like. Shower torn herb leaves over all.