RIGATONI NEOPOLITAN-STYLE WITH ROASTED PEPPERS
4 to 6 servings
- 5 large sweet red peppers or 2 red, 2 yellow, and 1 green pepper(s)
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 4 whole garlic cloves, peeled
- Salt to taste
- 1 pound rigatoni or ziti or other stubby tubular pasta
- About 4 to 5 quarts salted boiling water
- ¼ cup butter or margarine (see note)
- 15 large or 20 small fresh basil leaves (no stems)
- About 2/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese or as desired
Arrange peppers on a metal rack in a broiler pan; char peppers, all sides, about 4 inches from heat source. Or, char peppers over an open flame on top of the range. Place peppers in a brown bag or aluminum foil, seal, and allow to stand at room temperature for about 20 to 25 minutes. Remove peppers from bag or foil and easily remove core, peels, and seeds. Cut peppers into thin strips and set aside.
In a large heavy skillet, heat olive oil over moderate heat; add the garlic and sauté, stirring frequently, until a golden color. Add pepper pieces to skillet and sauté about 1 minute (peppers should not become mushy). Season to taste with salt. Remove from heat and set aside.
In a large heavy pot, cook rigatoni in 4 to 5 quarts salted boiling water according to package directions, al dente, firm to the bite. Drain pasta and transfer to a serving bowl.
While pasta is cooking, melt butter or margarine. Rinse and gently dry basil leaves; tear into smaller pieces, being careful not to bruise leaves.
To serve, add peppers and all the oil from the skillet, melted butter, basil, and freshly grated cheese, tossing lightly to mix. Serve at once.
Note: May omit butter or margarine; add ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil to the cooked pasta with the oil from the skillet.
Variations: When sautéing the garlic, also sauté 8 to 12 ounces mild Italian sausage, casing removed and cut into bite-size pieces, until browned. Drain off any collected fat from sausage.
When sautéing the roasted peppers, also sauté 6 to 12 ounces baby spinach, stems removed; sauté only about 1 minute. Do not allow spinach to become too soft or mushy.