Wednesday, 18 January 2017

Pasta with Roasted Peppers - Inspired by Nigel Slater

Nigel Slater is one cool dude. He's my food hero!

While most famous chefs show signs of being a megalomaniac, Nigel comes across as a quiet, chilled out, low profile chef who is highly respected in the industry. There's no yelling in his kitchen, no puffed out chest or big noting himself. He's just a man in black working quietly and comfortably at his own pace.

Having watched a few of his DVD's, read his memoir "Toast"  and a number of other cook books he has published, I am a true Nigel Slater 'Groupie'. Somehow he seems to blend the right amount of herbs or spices in the simplest way and team ingredients to give un complicated and delicious dishes. If you are unfamiliar with Nigel's work, then just go to this link.

Inspired by one of his couplings - Pasta with Peppers, I have tried to recreate the dish without his actual recipe. I hope I have done it justice.

I served this to a group of friends for lunch, just before Christmas and it went down really well. I was feeling pretty rushed at the time and wasn't sure what to make as it was quite a warm day and we were eating outside.  I made up a big Mezze Plate for Entree, stuff I didn't have to cook; Dolmades, Greek Beans, olives, semi-dried tomatoes, dips, etc. Such an easy way to entertain a lot of people when you have little time.


I have worked on the ratio of 2 capsicums (peppers) per person, but only one if they are very big. Once cooked they do tend to shrink a little.

Serves 4

6 Capsicums (peppers) red, green or yellow 1. 5  - 2 per person
large bunch of basil
6 shallots finely sliced
6 - 8  cloves garlic peeled, finely chopped
250g ripe cherry tomatoes
olive oil
100g pine nuts, lightly toasted
250g pasta - I use penne or spirals
2 tablespoons flat leaf parsley
salt and pepper
Crème Fraîche -optional

In a dry pan, toast the pine nuts until golden and set aside.

Take each pepper and take a small slice out of it lengthways. The capsicums are going to act as little 'boats' to support the tomatoes and garlic. Place the capsicums into a lined baking dish. 

Put the garlic, shallots and tomatoes into a bowl.  Chop the slivers of capsicum that you sliced off and add this to the bowl. Season with salt and pepper.

Add a couple of tablespoons of olive oil and using your hands, mix the whole lot together and divide the mixture between the capsicums, filling up the cavities.

Take a large bunch of basil and a very large slug of olive oil and blend the two together, until they resemble a thin sauce.  Add a pinch of salt. 

Tip the basil sauce over the capsicums, and bake in a preheated oven at 170º fan forced for around 40 - 50 minutes until the capsicums are nicely charred, soft and very very juicy.

While the capsicums are cooking, bring a large saucepan of water to the boil and cook the pasta following the recommended guidelines.

Remove the cooked capsicums from the oven, place them on a serving dish and sprinkle with toasted pine nuts. Retain all the lovely juices from the pan. 

Once the pasta is cooked, drain and add to the juices in the pan, warming slightly on the cook top. Tip the pasta into a serving bowl and add chopped parsley. It is advisable to serve the pasta and capsicums separately.

I remember Nigel served his peppers with a dollop of Crème Fraîche and that is a option, if you don't mind the extra calories.

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