Penne with Roasted Peppers & Vermouth

Penne with Roasted Peppers & Vermouth

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Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Servings: 6
For perfectly cooked pasta, follow these tips: Use a large pot of water to cook the pasta quickly and evenly, and add a generous amount of salt to the water after it reaches a boil to replace the salt leached from the pasta as it cooks. Always stir dried pasta immediately after adding it to the water and once or twice during cooking to keep it from sticking together. Cook until al dente, tender but still chewy. When draining pasta, reserve a little of the cooking water to add to the sauce if necessary; its starch content will thicken a sauce slightly. Use cooked pasta right away. If it must sit, toss it lightly with olive oil to prevent sticking.


  • 2 Tbs. unsalted butter
  • 3 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
  • About 8 green onions, white and light green portions, thinly sliced
  • 6 bell peppers, preferably a mixture of red, yellow and orange, roasted,
      peeled and cut into long, narrow strips (see related tip at left)
  • Freshly grated nutmeg, to taste
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 1/2 cup sweet red vermouth
  • 1 lb. dried penne
  • 1/4 lb. ricotta salata or feta cheese, grated or finely crumbled
  • About 12 fresh basil leaves, cut into julienne, plus sprigs for garnish


In a large fry pan over medium heat, melt the butter with the 3 Tbs. olive oil. Add the green onions and sauté until softened, about 2 minutes. Add the bell pepper strips and a pinch of nutmeg, season with salt and pepper, and sauté until the peppers are tender and very fragrant, about 5 minutes. Add the vermouth and cook until reduced by half, about 2 minutes.

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat. Generously salt the boiling water, add the pasta and cook until al dente, 10 to 12 minutes. Drain the pasta, reserving about 1/2 cup of the cooking water.

Add the pasta to the fry pan and cook briefly over low heat to blend the flavors, adding a few Tbs. of the reserved cooking water to loosen the sauce, if needed. Transfer to a warmed large, shallow bowl. Add 2 heaping Tbs. of the cheese, the julienned basil and a drizzle of olive oil and toss. Taste and adjust the seasonings (you may not need extra salt due to the saltiness of the cheese). Garnish with basil sprigs. Serve hot or at room temperature and pass the remaining cheese at the table. Serves 4 to 6.

Adapted from The Williams-Sonoma Cookbook, Edited by Chuck Williams (Free Press, 2008).
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