Pesto Spaghetti with blackened, grilled bell peppers and lots ‘o parmigiano

Ingredients (About 4 servings): 1/2 pound whole wheat spaghetti, 2-3 large organic red bell peppers cut into strips (pick out ones whose skin is very taut, signifying their freshness),  1 cup loosely packed basil leaves, about 1/2 cup or a little less of grated Reggiano Parmigiano, about 1/2 cup or a little less extra virgin olive oil, 1 tablespoon lightly toasted pine nuts, 1 clove garlic

Heat a grill pan and drizzle with olive oil. Once the oil is hot, add the bell pepper strips. Give them a little toss to coat them, then place them so that each is in contact with the pan. Sprinkle on a little salt and pepper.

Meanwhile, make the pesto. Pulse the garlic clove, toasted pine nuts, and basil in a food processor until all of the ingredients are evenly combined. Add the reggiano, and then slowly add the olive oil through the feeder tube, pulsing often. Do not add the olive oil all at once, or it will not mix into the mixture properly. Add a few more basil leaves if you think it needs it, or a little more olive oil or cheese. I am always adjusting the pesto at the end depending on what flavor is lacking.

Cook the pasta until al dente. Soft pasta drives me crazy. There is nothing worse than gummy pasta, and the Italians taught me well.

Save a about 1/2 cup of the pasta water before draining the pasta. You can do this by skimming the top with your spoon, where the water is white and frothy. Do not let the pasta get too dry when you drain it; quickly add it back to the pot over a low flame to keep it hot. Add in the pesto and the peppers at once so that the pasta doesn’t stick together. Add the pasta water by spoonful if you think the pasta is too dry. You can also drizzle on extra olive oil to mix in. Serve with grated parmigiano.

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Categories: Pasta, Pesto

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