Gianfrancesco’s Mafalde With Fresh Roasted Red Pepper Sauce
My friend, Gianfrancesco is a great no-nonsense cook. He has an array of simple and delicious dishes he makes quickly when he’s in his Milan apartment away from his family home. One of these is mafalde pasta with roasted red pepper sauce. Mafalde (see photo) are the narrowest lasagna noodle you can imagine but are eaten like regular spaghetti. Their ruffled edges hold the sauce remarkably well.
In the summer, I like to keep heating the house to a minimum, so we leave the oven aside (as much as possible) and eat lots of salads, Mediterranean tapas/mezze that are served chilled, but sometimes, this is not substantial enough. In those cases, I go for pasta with fresh sauces. The only heat you generate is with the boiling pasta water and the dish that comes to table is less hot than one with a cooked sauce. If you’ve already gone to the market and roasted all your peppers and eggplant (hopefully outside on the barbecue grill) then this dish takes only the time it takes to boil water and cook the pasta.
Here’s the dish:
about 8 ozs mafalde pasta (if you have appetites like ours)
1 medium-sized garlic clove
4 medium-sized basil leaves
1 roasted, peeled and seeded red bell pepper
salt and freshly-ground pepper to taste
1 tbsp very good olive oil (it stays raw here so you can really appreciate the good stuff)
lots of Parmesan or Grana Padano
Set a large pot of water to boil. In a small food processor, place the garlic and basil. Whiz around for 5 seconds until they’re in small pieces. Add the pepper and any juices that may have accumulated. Check if the water’s boiling, if so add pasta and cook according to package directions. Mine said 9 minutes. Whiz the sauce again until you have a uniform consistency. Music to whiz peppers by: My all-time favorites, The Pixies’ "Wave of Mutilation" on the album, Doolittle, home to their only hit, "Monkey Gone to Heaven", which is nowhere near as sublime as this tune right here. (BTW If you don't have this release, run, don't walk to your nearest record store and demand it!) Add the salt, pepper and olive oil, whiz once more to incorporate. When the pasta is done, drain it very well, and plate with a dollop of sauce in the center sprinkled with cheese.
(Having problems getting Blogger to put pictures up, will add them asap)