It’s The Secret Recipe Club time again. For the uninitiated, we’re a group of around 130 food bloggers, separated into four smaller blogging groups. Every month, we’re each assigned a blog in our group to look through. We try a few recipes and chose one to post about. But all month long, we keep our assignment a secret until ‘reveal day’. It’s been a lot of fun – and I’ve found some great new blogs to follow and new recipes to add to my rotation – especially this one!!
This month I was assigned a really wonderful blog – Fried Ice and Donut Holes. Melissa is the author, photographer, editor of this beautiful blog and is a teacher. I was curious about the name of her blog – at first glance I thought it was Fried RICE, and then realized it was Fried ICE. Donut holes, sign me up, but can you even fry ice? The answer of course is no. When Melissa was young, her grandpa used to threaten her and her siblings with this for dinner if they didn’t behave. Me, I threaten my grandchildren with kale smoothies. They’re ages 5 – 11 and they’ve never tried one, but they want to make sure they never do.
Melissa’s blog was a great blog to sift through because she has 107, yes 107, vegetarian recipes! Her desserts and breads looked great too, I’m dying to try her Dark and Stormy Chocolate Cake – it has molasses, Dark Rum, and lime zest in it! – but we’re off to Hawaii TWO WEEKS FROM TODAY!!!!!!! and I’m yearning for the bathing suits of the 1920’s. You know the ones, they were baggy and covered your entire body down to your knees – but super-cute bathing caps. I kept thinking I’d lose 10 pounds, at least, but somehow I only thought about it when I had guilty thoughts after I ate a bunch of chocolate straight up from the bag, or the chocolate chip cookies from Peet’s Coffee shop, a dangerously short 5 block walk from the house. But the next special occasion – I’m thinking my husband’s birthday in July – that cake is getting made.
I was in a pasta mood this month, another reason I need a 1920’s era bathing suit, and had some delectable choices – Butternut Squash and Spinach Lasagna Rolls, perfect for next fall or winter, Fresh Corn Ravioli with Herb Cream Sauce, which I’m totally making when the corn comes into the local Farmer’s markets, and her Free Form Vegetarian Lasagna. But I settled on her Roasted Red Pepper Penne in the end. A friend of mine, Sylvia, raved about a red pepper pasta dish she had while vacationing in Sicily earlier this year and I’ve had it on my mind ever since.
There are a lot of things to love about this dish – it’s full of flavor, whips up in the time it takes to cook the pasta, and accepts little changes easily if you want. I was the lucky recipient of a box packed with Asian greens from Jade Asian Greens, and decided at the last minute to sauté some Asian Broccoli-Rapini (Gai Lan) up with the onions to toss into the pasta at the last minute. It was the perfect addition to a perfect pasta! You’ll be hearing more about my fun experiments with their greens in upcoming posts!
- 1 pound dried penne pasta
- 3 Tbsp olive oil, divided
- ½ yellow onion, thinly sliced
- 5 stalks Asian Broccoli Rapini (1 cup when coarsely chopped)
- 1 16-ounce jar Roasted Red Peppers, drained
- 5 garlic cloves, minced
- ⅓ cup Parmesan cheese, plus more to finish
- 4-5 basil leaves, coarsely chopped
- ¼ tsp ground black pepper
- ¼ tsp kosher salt
- Bring a pot of well-salted water to a boil in a large pot over high heat. Cook the pasta according to package directions.
- Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a medium sauté pan over medium heat. Add the onions and cook for 1 minute. Trim the ends from the rapini and slice the stalks into thin discs about ¼" thick and add to the onion. When the onion and rapini stalks are almost tender, about 10 minutes, add the leaves and cook an additional 3 minutes.
- Meanwhile, in the bowl of a food processor or blender (I used my Ninja), add the peppers, garlic, cheese, basil leaves, salt, and pepper. Blend until pureed, then stream in 2 tablespoons of oil so that the mixture comes together.
- Combine the cooked penne, onions and rapini in a large bowl. Add the red pepper sauce and toss to coat. Serve with additional Parmesan if desired.