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Laid-back pasta supper eases holiday stress

November 17, 2014

Roasted red peppers from a jar never tasted so good as when doctored with some herbs and melted cheese.

You’ve just slid the umpteenth batch of cookies into the oven. Or you’ve been grocery shopping all day for that big Thanksgiving meal. Or you’ve been cleaning the house, wrapping presents, writing Christmas cards.

Whatever your holiday prep tasks, you’ve had it and you just can’t face making dinner. But before you reach for the phone to dial up a pizza, consider the pantry. You probably have a lot in there that you can throw together for a quick meal.

Take pasta. In the 10 minutes it takes for the water to boil, you could turn a jar of roasted red peppers and some staples into a lush treat. No roasted peppers? How about artichoke dip? Or eggplant dip? Dig around; you may find something that inspires.

Then follow this model, which is blissfully free of chopping, the bane of many a cook. (OK, it requires just a little slicing). To make the peppers saucy and creamy, reach for a little dairy. You may not have mascarpone in the fridge, but I’ll bet you have cream cheese or a melty cheese like brie. Start with a few tablespoons and add as much as you like. Some hot, starchy pasta water will help smooth the way.

Then kick back and enjoy dinner, before untangling the Christmas tree lights.

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PANTRY PASTA

Prep: 10 minutes

Cook: 10 minutes

Makes: 2 servings

1/2 pound spaghetti

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 clove garlic

1 jar (12 ounces) roasted red bell peppers, drained, rinsed, sliced in strips

Heavy cream, a melty cheese, mascarpone or cream cheese

Capers, drained, rinsed

Fresh herbs, torn, or dried, such as thyme or basil

1. Heat a large pot of well-salted water to a boil over high heat; add the spaghetti. Cook until al dente, 8-10 minutes. Drain, saving about 1/4 cup of the cooking water.

2. Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Smash the garlic with the side of a chef’s knife; peel and add it to the pan. Cook, 1 minute. Stir in the peppers; cook to heat through, 3-5 minutes.

3. Turn heat to low; stir in your dairy component. If using cheese, add some pasta water to help it melt. If using cream, let it reduce a little. Sprinkle on capers and herbs, if you have them. Stir the cooked, drained spaghetti into the skillet to coat strands with the sauce. Remove the garlic clove and serve.

 

 


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