Recipe: Roasted Pepper Pasta Sauce

Song: December, 1963 (Oh What a Night) by The Four Seasons
Many years ago, there was a feature on spicy food in Better Homes and Gardens. I liked two of the recipes enough to copy them (by hand, on paper — this was the old days). One was for Beer Barrel Lima Beans and the other was one of my favorite recipes of all time — Rigatoni with Fire-Roasted Jalapeno Pesto. The rigatoni is supposed to be a side dish, but I’ve always doubled or tripled the recipe and had it as a main course. It’s so delicious that when I make it, I don’t want to bother eating anything else.

As far as I remember, the original recipe didn’t include the “or Anaheim peppers” bit (if it did, I didn’t write it down). When I used to make it with just jalapenos, it almost always turned out painfully spicy. I enjoy painfully spicy, but sometimes it was so spicy you’d end up hating life the next day, ifyouknowwhatimean. After several years, being the smartypants I am, I figured out the “or Anaheim peppers” bit on my own. The last few times, I’ve made the pesto with Anaheim or similar peppers and a jalapeno or two. This is A++ perfect — a little spicy but not too spicy.

Tonight, I used the same concept to make a roasted red pepper sauce and, holy crap, it is so good. My original plan was to make a red pepper sauce like you get on patatas bravas con salsa romesco at a tapas restaurant. I looked around for red pepper sauce recipes, but most of them contained something weird (not weird in general but weird to me in the context of red pepper sauce), like balsamic vinegar or cream, which I wasn’t sure about. Eventually, I figured the best bet was to follow my old, standard pepper pesto recipe, just with roasted red peppers. If it wasn’t exciting, I could add to it.

I didn’t measure anything when I made this, but here’s roughly what I did for roasted red pepper pesto. I’m pretty haphazard here. If you want actual measurements, I recommend following the BHG recipe (although, for real, double or triple it), with whatever peppers you like.


  • a bunch of fresh parmesan cheese
  • three roasted red peppers, peeled and seeded (I recommend roasting, peeling, and seeding your peppers at least a day before you need them, because when they sit in the fridge for a while, they — I don’t know — make oil (jalapenos or Anaheims) or jelly (red), which sounds disturbing but is a nice addition. We often barbecue on Saturday or Sunday evenings and just throw the peppers on the grill, put them in a sealed plastic bag for a couple hours, peel and seed them, put them in Tupperware, and store them in the refrigerator until they’re needed. And by “we” I mean Ben, who deserves credit for doing the hard part of this for me on Sunday.)
  • one roasted jalapeno pepper, peeled and seeded
  • one clove roasted garlic or a few dashes of garlic powder
  • some olive oil
  • a few dashes of paprika (I’m loving paprika in just about everything these days — put some on your garlic bread and it’ll be the best garlic bread you’ve ever had, trust.)
  • salt, to taste


Grate fresh parmesan or, if you’re lazy like I am, cut it into equal-sized chunks and throw into the bowl of food processor that is outfitted with the standard blade and process until it could pass as grated. Add peppers, garlic, olive oil, paprika, salt, and optional ancho chile powder to the bowl. Process until smooth.

Heating this sauce is optional. Today, I heated it in a small saucepan over medium heat until it was just warm and the cheese got a little melty. We served it over cheese ravioli, but any pasta would work. (Ben likes the jalapeno/Anaheim version hot and I like it cold. Usually, I add the sauce to cold pasta and Ben adds it to hot pasta or microwaves it if the pasta is cold.)

You could make this with any type of roasted pepper and any supporting ingredients. You really don’t need to measure anything — it’s an incredibly easy, low-maintenance recipe, and it always turns out awesome. Enjoy!