Craving a dreamy, creamy and healthy pasta for dinner? You've came to the right place. All you need is 1 red bell pepper and a couple of pantry ingredients. With less than 10 ingredients needed, you will have a quick and delicious dinner in no time.
This recipe was inspired by my desire to create a creamy pasta sauce without all the dairy and butter. I have always felt groggy and unreasonably full after eating high fat and rich dishes so I wanted to create something lighter, healthier and just as delicious! If you have checked out our other recipes before, you will notice my history of creating pasta sauces using vegetables (eg. mushroom ragu and dill pea pasta) so naturally, I had to do something with red bell peppers.
But to be honest, I am not the biggest fan of bell peppers due to its texture. However, I sternly believe that if you don't like something, it's probably because you have not found a better way to use that ingredient. So since I don't like the texture of bell peppers, I decided that I should just blend it up and season it to my taste! Best decision ever.
For a complete meal, I like to enjoy this pasta with chicken and broccoli. Other light-tasting proteins like tofu or seafoods would also pair nicely with this sauce. Some peas, spinach or kale wilted into the sauce would be delicious as well. You can also turn this sauce into soup and serve it with a side of grilled cheese *drool*. Just add enough stock to achieve a soupy consistency.
About the ingredients:
Red bell pepper: he highly suggest using red bell peppers because they are the ripest, therefore the sweetest out of all the other colours. Green bell peppers are slightly bitter so I wouldn't recommend it with this recipe. Orange or yellow bell peppers would be fine. Did you know that red bell peppers are higher in micronutrients (such as beta-carotene and vitamin C) than all the other colours? This is because they've been on the vine the longest and had the chance to ripen.
Roasted garlic: this recipe calls for half a head of garlic! I know it seems intense and you're probably scared that you will be cursed with garlic breath for a day. However, roasting the garlic mellows out the harshness and turns it into a sweet and buttery flavour bomb. Trust me, no garlic breath for anyone who eats this!
Coconut milk: this milk has it all. It's super creamy and it pairs well with bell peppers.
Apple cider vinegar: I can't stress how necessary it is to add some acidity to rich foods! I tasted the sauce without vinegar at first and it felt flat and overwhelmingly rich. Then I added a splash of vinegar to the sauce and bam! Perfection. So please... you won't be doing the sauce justice without any sort of acidic component.
Red pepper flakes: creamy, salty, sweet and slightly acidic. All we are missing is some spice! I prefer to use red pepper flakes over cayenne because it's not as potent but either works fine. However, if you use cayenne, I recommend to only add a pinch.
Creamy Red Bell Pepper Pasta
Yield: 1 cup
Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 20 minutes
1 red bell pepper
1/2 garlic head
1/4 of a whole onion
1/2 cup canned coconut milk
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
1 tsp salt
1 tsp apple cider vinegar
Parmesan (optional, not vegan)
Preheat your oven to 400F.
Prep. Cut the red bell pepper in half and de-seed it. Cut a 1/4 of a cheek off of an onion. Cut a whole garlic head lengthwise (every clove should be halved). You do not need to take the skins off! Wrap the garlic in a ball of aluminum foil.
Bake. Place the bell pepper skin side up on a baking sheet. Rub some oil on it and season with a sprinkle of salt. Place the onion and garlic on the baking sheet. Bake for 20 minutes or until the skins of the red pepper has developed some dark spots. The garlic will need an additional 20 minutes in the oven.
Blend. Add the roasted red bell pepper and onion into a blender. Squeeze the garlic out of the skins and into the blender. Add the rest of the ingredients and blend together.
Mix the sauce with the pasta and along with some pasta water. Enjoy with a good grating of parmesan on top!
If you do not have apple cider vinegar, any other vinegar would work. Lemon or lime juice would also work. We just need a little bit of acidity to balance the richness of the coconut milk.