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Pasta with Red Pepper Sauce

This vibrant red sauce is a versatile standby in a vegetarian cook’s repertoire and includes such favorites as red sweet peppers, basil, and red wine vinegar. Experiment using it over polenta, vegetables, legumes, and in other dishes for a change of pace from your favorite marinara sauce.


* 6 medium red sweet peppers, chopped, or two 12-ounce jars roasted red sweet peppers, drained
* 4 cloves garlic
* 2 tablespoons olive oil
* 1 cup water
* 2/3 cup loosely packed snipped fresh basil or 2 tablespoons dried basil, crushed
* 1/2 cup tomato paste
* 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
* 8 ounces hot cooked whole wheat or regular pasta, such as penne, cavatelli, or tortellini
* Grated Parmesan cheese (optional)


For sauce, in a large skillet cook sweet peppers and garlic in oil over medium heat about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. (Or, if using peppers from a jar, in a 2-quart saucepan cook garlic in hot oil for 3 to 4 minutes or until light brown.)

Place half of the pepper-garlic mixture in a blender container or food processor bowl. Cover; blend or process until nearly smooth. Add half each of the water, basil, tomato paste, and vinegar. Cover and blend or process with several on-and-off turns until basil is just chopped and mixture is nearly smooth. Transfer to a 2-quart saucepan. Repeat with remaining peppers, water, basil, tomato paste, and vinegar; transfer to the saucepan.

Cook and stir sauce over medium heat until heated through. Serve sauce over pasta. If desired, sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.

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