With everything ’round us orange and black,
in the holiday spirit here’s a dish to match.
Halloween recipes seem to be about sweets and treats or blood sausage and offal. So I want to get this post up quickly so you’ll have something more balanced and less intimidating to enjoy this weekend. And, if I’m speedy enough you’ll have time to buy some black pasta from a local specialty food market or possibly online for dinner by Monday night.
Black pasta, sometimes called “Calamari Pasta” is regular egg pasta flavored and dyed with squid ink for striking color and a subtle, briny ocean flavor. You can make your own fresh black pasta once you have some squid ink on hand. In spite of being named after squid, you’ll most likely purchase the ink of cuttlefish, which some say has a richer, mellower taste than the ink from squid.
Whenever you serve black pasta, its dramatic coloring is quite the conversation piece. And when paired with Roasted Orange Bell Pepper Sauce it actually stops the conversation.
As Halloween is only once a year, enjoy this bold-flavored, vegan Roasted Bell Pepper Sauce throughout the year tossed with your favorite pasta, as a dip for crudités, a garnish for black bean soup, or as a sauce with fish, polenta, grains or steamed veggies.
Yield: enough for 8 ounces dry pasta
3 medium-to-large orange bell peppers (or 2 red and one yellow)
6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 medium shallot, roughly chopped
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 ½ tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 ½ teaspoons sea salt
Large pinch red pepper flakes
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
To roast the peppers:
Preheat the broiler to high. Place an oven rack 6 inches from the heat.
Use a sharp paring knife to cut around the stem so you can easily pull it out. Cut the pepper in half and remove any white pith on the inside. Cut a few slits in the edges of the pepper so it will lie relatively flat when pressed with the palm of your hand. Repeat with each of the peppers and place them skin-side up on a lightly oiled baking pan.
Place the pan under the broiler flame and cook for about 10 minutes, rotating the pan a few times to evenly blister and blacken the skin of each of the pepper halves. Remove the pan from the oven and immediately cover it completely with another baking pan or foil and let sit for about 10 minutes.
If you plan on eating immediately, put a large pan of water on the stove for cooking the pasta.
To prepare the sauce:
Remove all of the skin from the peppers using a small knife (I like to wear thin vinyl gloves when doing this). Chop the peppers into rough pieces and put them along with the olive oil, shallot, lemon juice, vinegar, sea salt and pepper flakes into the blender. Puree till very smooth. Adjust the salt to taste and set aside.
Cook the pasta and assemble the dish:
Cook the pasta according to the package directions. Drain the cooked pasta and either top or toss with the sauce and a sprinkling of chopped parsley. Serve with freshly grated Parmesan if desired.
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