This colorful pasta is filled with the smoky, rich flavors of grilled peppers and saffron. Penne, or any other hollow or twisted pasta shape, is right for this sauce. If you have roasted peppers on hand, this pasta can be assembled in just a few moments.
Yield: 4 servings
1 large red bell pepper
1 large yellow bell pepper
1/8 teaspoon saffron threads
½ cup hot water
2 large tomatoes
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium-sized red onion, finely diced
3 garlic cloves, pounded to a paste or finely chopped
Cover the saffron threads with the hot water. Bring a small pan of water to a boil, submerge the tomatoes for 15 seconds, and remove them. Take off the skins, slice the tomatoes in half, gently squeeze out the juices, and cut the flesh into small squares.
Warm the oil in a wide skillet and add the onion. Cook over medium-high heat until the onion is just starting to color; then add the garlic, a few tablespoons water, and half the basil. Continue cooking until the onions have softened; then add the peppers, tomatoes, saffron threads and the liquid, and half-and-half; simmer until the sauce has thickened as much as you like.
Bring a large pot of water to a boil, add salt to taste and the pasta, and cook until it is al dente. Drain and add it to the sauce. Gently toss to combine and season with plenty of pepper. Serve garnished with the remaining basil and a light dusting of cheese.