Dish: Spicy Roasted Red Pepper, Onion and Garlic Spaghetti
Good For: Weeknight Dinner with Friends, Large Groups
Shopping list: spaghetti (1/2 lb), $0.50; 3 large red peppers, $2.90; 1 head garlic, $0.30; 4 large onions, $3.00; 1 small jar tomato paste, $0.66; half bunch basil, $0.75; 100g feta, $1.30
Pantry Items: Olive oil, red pepper flakes, salt, pepper
Total Cost: $9.41
This spicy pasta was exactly what I needed this week. Carbs to ease the stress from finals. Spice to help clear my body of toxins and help expel my cold. Easy to put together after late night classes and studying. And, best of all, comfort food, harkening back to my childhood with an adult spin.
This recipe is quite simple and can be altered in many different ways, making it a staple weeknight dinner in my apartment. Try adding green vegetables like broccoli and asparagus. Throw in some spinach. Mix up the cheese. Add in a protein like chicken, sausage, shrimp or toasted nuts. Instead of basil, try thyme or parsley. Feel free to go wild!
While pasta is sometimes seen as an “unhealthy” food, it can provide necessary fuel, especially for active individuals or when experiencing little sleep. If you are gluten-free, use quinoa spaghetti. Because the sauce is packed with vegetables, I usually find myself satisfied with less pasta. Serve this along with a salad in balsamic vinaigrette and/or garlic bread for the perfect weeknight treat.
Spicy Roasted Red Pepper, Onion, and Garlic Spaghetti
1 head garlic
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 large red bell peppers
4 large onions
salt and pepper
1 tablespoon red pepper flakes (add more or less depending on your level of spice)
1 small jar tomato paste
1/2 lb spaghetti
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil (dry would also work, just add it to the tomato paste early)
100g feta (about a 4” cube)
Preheat the oven to 400°F. Cut the top off the head of garlic, exposing the ends of the cloves slightly. Drizzle with some of the olive oil and wrap in tinfoil. Place in oven for 20 minutes.
While garlic is roasting, prepare vegetables. Seed the peppers and cup into long thin strips. Cut the onions into strips as well. Place on a large baking sheet coated with parchment paper and drizzle with the remaining olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and toss to coat. Add to the oven with the garlic once the first 20 minutes are up. Roast everything another 20 minutes, keeping an eye on the vegetables so they do not burn. Remove from oven when they are just beginning to burn on the edges.
Meanwhile, start heating your pasta water, making sure to salt it thoroughly. Do not start the pasta yet. In a large skillet with tall sides, add the red pepper flakes and toast over medium heat for 2 minutes. Add the tomato paste and reduce heat to low. Simmer the tomato paste with pepper flakes, season with salt and pepper. Stir regularly.
Once the vegetables are roasted, add the onions and peppers to the simmering tomato paste. Start the pasta boiling. Using half the head of roasted garlic, remove the roasted cloves from their skins (I find using the back of a knife to squeeze them out against the cutting board works well). Crush them into a paste with the side of your knife on a cutting board, and scrape into the sauce.
Stir the sauce and add 1/2 cup of the pasta water to the sauce. Continue to add water as necessary. Once pasta is done, drain the pasta. Add the spaghetti to the sauce in the saucepan and turn off the heat. Stir in the chopped basil.
Divide into four servings, topping each with sprinkled feta. Enjoy!