It seems like it was just a few decades ago when the only color in the pepper department was green.
And the green version seemed to show up everywhere, whenever home cooks wanted to jazz a dish up (meatloaf, iceberg salad, spaghetti sauce) or do something special for the church potluck.
We have nothing against a green pepper. We like the way they look, for instance, in a certain light. But the truth is there is probably no one in the universe who has ever had the thought: What I'd like right now is a green bell pepper. Wherever green peppers are, they take over the flavor of a dish, and they turn the color of army camouflage when cooked.
BONNIE TRAFELET / Chicago Tribune
Red and yellow bell peppers team up with sausage for a delicious sauce over pasta.
So we consider it a blessing that Americans caught on to red and yellow and orange bell peppers some time ago. They are so sweet and subtle yet complex that we like to roast them, peel off their skin, and save them in a jar with garlic cloves and olive oil, to place on grilled cheddar sandwiches, or slice up in a green bean salad, or turn into bruschetta with goat cheese. They seem to make everything better.
When we would like nothing better than a red or yellow pepper, we like to make this pasta sauce, which features the bell pepper's very close friend, the sausage.
Don't skip peeling the peppers; it transforms them into something even more sublime, believe it or not, and is quite easy with a good peeler.
This recipe is from Marcella Hazan's “Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking,” and Hazan prefers sausages without fennel seeds or other strong seasonings in this dish. Chicken sausage is delicious in this recipe.
Red and Yellow Bell Pepper Pasta With Sausages
1 red bell pepper
2 yellow bell peppers
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons chopped onion
4 sweet Italian sausages, sliced in 1/2-inch pieces
1/4 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground pepper
1 cup canned imported plum tomatoes, drained, chopped
11/2 pounds pappardelle or rigatoni, cooked according to package directions
2/3 cup grated parmesan cheese, plus more at the table
1 tablespoon butter
Split the peppers into four sections, and discard seeds and cores. Peel sections with a vegetable peeler, if desired. Cut into 1-inch pieces; set aside.
Put olive oil and onion in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Cook, stirring, until onion turns pale gold, about 5 minutes. Add sausages; cook 2 to 3 minutes. Add peppers; cook, turning occasionally, 7 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste; stir well.
Add tomatoes; reduce heat to low. Cook 20 minutes. Place pasta and sauce in a serving bowl; toss. Add grated parmesan and butter; toss. Serve with more parmesan at the table.
Per serving: 545 calories (33 percent from fat), 20 g fat (6 g saturated), 26 mg cholesterol, 69 g carbohydrates, 21 g protein, 528 mg sodium, 5 g fiber.
(Adapted from “Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking” by Marcella Hazan.)