Psssst….hey you. Yes, you, my dear reader. I have a little bit of a secret to let you in on. My Roasted Red Pepper Marinara? The one I frequently make for dinner guests, the one my husband loves and often references when bragging to friends about all the great meals he gets at home? Well, get ready for a shocker. There aren’t any roasted red peppers in it.
Somewhere along the line, my husband has picked up a few correct and not so correct food and cooking terms which he likes to interject whenever he talks about my kitchen prowess. These terms may include, but are not limited to:
1) Balsamic Reduction – as in, “Her spaghetti sauce is so good, because it has a balsamic reduction in it” (it doesn’t)
2) Whip an Egg Into It – as in “Wouldn’t that sage and brown butter sauce be good if you whipped an egg into it?” (no, it would be scrambled eggs)
and not lastly…
3) Roasted Red Pepper – as in “You guys have to come over for dinner so Kitty can make you her penne and sausage with roasted red pepper sauce”
To be fair, there are red peppers in the sauce (or orange or yellow), there just aren’t any roasted red peppers in the sauce. A small detail, perhaps, but as I am sure most of you would agree, it is a definite distinction to anyone who spends time cooking. However, none of our dinner guests have called me out on it yet, so as long as he wants to keep calling it that, I will continue to find it charming, and he can continue thinking I am a far less lazy chef than I am. Oh, and by the way, it is an excellent veggie fake out.
Kitty’s “Roasted” Red Pepper Marinara (enough for 2-3 meals)
Plenty of good olive oil
1 large sweet or yellow onion, roughly chopped
1 large sweet red bell pepper, seeded & roughly chopped
4 cloves garlic, chopped
½ cup red wine*
2 large cans of crushed tomatoes (San Marzano if you can get them)
½ teaspoon dried pepperoncino flakes
1 teaspoon dried oregano
kosher salt & pepper to taste
1) In a large soup pot, lightly salt and sautee your onion in olive oil for 5-7 minutes, until translucent
2) Add the red pepper for 3-5 minutes, then the chopped garlic
3) Create hot spots to add your pepperoncino flakes and oregano, allow them 1 minute at the bottom of the pan, then stir to incorporate. Add salt & pepper
4) Add the red wine, and give it a minute or two to really sizzle and start to reduce
5) Add the tomatoes, and crank up the heat to bring the sauce to a boil
6) Reduce heat to a low simmer, and cover. Allow to simmer at least 20 minutes
7) In a blender or with a hand immersion blender, blend to a smooth consistency
*Note on the red wine: You may skip the wine if you like, or sub w/ a smaller amount of vinegar, but your finished sauce, once blended, will take on a light orange color (almost like a vodka or pink sauce), because of all the vegetables. It will still be yummy, but will be lighter than a traditional marinara. The addition of the red wine makes the appearance just right.
The flavor of this sauce almost does taste like roasted red peppers, with a smoky flavor in the background of the sweet and tangy freshness of the vegetables. It is a great sauce to serve with sausage, and I make it healthy by serving it with sliced sweet Italian chicken sausage, and high fiber pasta like the new one by Barilla (for my money, tastier, and far easier to sneak past my husband than whole wheat pastas). Seriously, who wouldn’t want to eat this?:
Believe me, my husband has no clue how healthy he is eating when he enjoys this meal, and we have it pretty frequently. Bell peppers are loaded with vitamins A & C, 2 very powerful antioxidants, which work together to fight free radicals in the body, helping everything from eyesight to arthritis to fighting cholesterol. Tomatoes and bell peppers are on a very short list of foods which contain lycopene (tomatoes have even more when cooked!) which science has shown reduces the risk of many forms of cancer (making this dish perfect for the Mele Cotte Cooking to Prevent Cancer Event). Last but far from least, this whole dish is loaded with heart and colon healthy fiber.
On our official veggie fake out broccoli rating scale, I give this meal 8 out of 10 heads of broccoli.