Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Easy Red Pepper and Basil Pasta Sauce

After spending 2 months bemoaning the lack of basil and Parmesan in Cuba, I discovered that the "albahaca" meant basil and was available in Havana's "super?markets", I went a bit overboard in making pasta (and was thus renamed "gordita," but that's another study). This remains one of my favorite sauces and is very easy to make.

1 small onion, chopped
2-3 red bell peppers (if small, use 3)
1 tomato, seeds removed and diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup fresh basil, minced (or use 1 1/2 teaspoons dried basil)
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (or more to taste)
2 cups chicken broth
1/2 cup dry white wine
3 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
Salt and Pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 450.

Wash bell peppers and slice in half vertically. Remove stem, seeds and white stuff (I don't know what it is called-veins?). Place skin side up on cooking tray, drizzle 1 tablespoon olive oil on top and bake until tops are turning brown/black. Remove, let cool and remove skin from peppers and slice into smaller pieces.

In medium-large sauce pot, heat up remaining olive oil over medium-high heat. Add onion and garlic and stir, turning heat down to medium to prevent browning. Let cook 7 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add bell pepper pieces, tomato, crushed red pepper and wine. Turn heat up to medium high so that liquid begins to simmer, stirring constantly for 3-4 minutes.

Add chicken broth and bring pot to simmer and let cook 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. If using dried basil, add now.

Carefully pour mixture into blender and mix until sauce is smooth. Return to sauce pot and stir in minced basil. Add Parmesan and cook over medium-low heat 10 minutes or until incorporated.

Serve with your favorite pasta (also great over grilled chicken breasts and linguine!).

P.S. "yerba buena," which literally translates to "the good herb," which is mint. Not my first guess, but I guess they would not sell the alternative at agromercados.


  1. I have big plans for the tomatoes i'm planting this year, this sauce recipe getting bookmarked!

  2. Sounds great! I love trying new sauces for my pasta!

  3. Wow - ok, just saw Cuba as your locale, I'm in complete awe, I've always been intrigued by Cuba. PS - the sauce looks great!

  4. I love red peppers! I'll have to try this out...

  5. You should have a 'save recipe onto your hard drive' button! I am coming back and definitely cooking, eating and freezing this! Next stop, that mazing zuchinni and shrimp Linguini!


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