Three Cheese Roasted Pepper Tagliatelle

This is a fabulously rich and creamy dish, thanks to the addition of soft garlicky cheese – pick something like Boursin (although look out for cheaper supermarket-brand versions!) – as well as a handful of parmesan and a little cheddar to serve. If you usually buy pasta sauces in a jar, consider having a go at this instead – it’s even more delicious, it contains lovely fresh vegetables, and you can make it in fifteen minutes. However, please note that you do really need a hand-held blender to do this recipe properly – I’m not sure if it would work un-blended, but if you have a go please let me know!

2 sweet red peppers
Half an onion
A couple of cloves of garlic
1 stick of celery
200g soft cheese with garlic & herbs (something like Boursin)
1 tsp (or so) of fresh chilli
A dollop of sweet chilli sauce
A splash of milk
About a handful of grated parmesan
Salt and white pepper
Grated cheddar, to serve

Serves 2, with some left over for lunch the next day (It’s worth leaving some as I actually think it might be even better the next day…)

The first thing to do is grill your peppers – you can buy flamegrilled peppers in a jar, but as I’ve said before, they can be pretty expensive considering you can very easily do it yourself. Simply whack the grill on to its highest setting, then pop the peppers underneath on a baking tray – they will spit a little as they roast, so put them on the second-highest shelf rather than the highest. Keep an eye on them and turn once the skin on top has blackened and split. Once they’re blackened all over, whip them out and leave for a few minutes, then peel off the skin – if you’ve given them a good charring, then the skin should come off easily. Strip out the seeds and the stalky bit, and chop the flesh up roughly.

Next, finely dice the onion, the celery and the garlic, and get them sizzling gently in some olive oil, with the fresh chilli – you can leave the chilli out if you like, but it’s not there to make the dish fiery, just to add a nice warmth at the back of the throat. I buy Very Lazy ready-chopped chillis, to save me risking chilli-related injuries!

Once the onion is starting to turn pale golden, add the grilled peppers and then spoon in the soft cheese. Stir gently for a few minutes as the cheese melts, and once it’s all gooey, add a generous splash of milk and then take the pan off the heat. Blend until it’s smooth and a lovely creamy orangey-red colour, and return to a gentle heat.

Now is probably the time to get your pasta cooking. Once you’ve sorted that out, season the sauce and add a nice dollop of sweet chilli sauce, plus the grated parmesan – even if you don’t usually like the taste of parmesan, you might still like it as an ingredient. It brings a lovely salty depth to a dish without overwhelming it. 

Taste the sauce and add anything else you think it needs – you can adjust the flavours to suit yourself, as the peppers will make it quite sweet, so if you aren’t too keen on that, add more salt and white pepper.

Once your pasta is ready, add it to the pan with the sauce and mix well. Grate in some cheddar and stir it through so that it melts, and then serve up a generous, oozy plateful straightaway. Marvellous! To really make a meal of it, why not add my scrumptious homemade garlic bread - check out the recipe on the How To page.