From sumptuous caponatas to fresh salads with fregola, the humble bell pepper is a staple of Sardinian cuisine. Though a regular feature in Sardinian dishes year-round, it is the sun-kissed summer months when the bell pepper comes into its own. For instance, a popular bite enjoyed during this time is peperonata, a dish typically served on bread or with roasted meats, which sees fresh bell peppers slowly stewed in olive oil and tomato, until sweet and fragrant. Taking inspiration from this southern Italian favourite, we’ve blended soft and slightly charred roasted red peppers with exquisite San Marzano tomatoes that flourish in the volcanic soil around Mount Vesuvius, rendering a sweet and satisfying sauce.
Wickedly simple, while rendering delicious results, this vibrant (vegan!) sauce is summer in Italia on a plate. We pair our sauce with mafalde pasta, the long, wavy strands perfect at sopping up every drop of peppery goodness.
Our recipe for mafalde with red pepper sauce
Prep time: 60 minutes
Cook time: 60 minutes
Calories per serving: 402kcal
- 3-4 red bell peppers, core and seeds removed
- 500g San Marzano tomatoes, halved
- 3-4tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 4-5 leaves of basil, finely shredded
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- 400g fresh mafalde pasta
Chef's tip: Mafalde is a type of extruded pasta, meaning it's unique shape is formed by a pasta machine/bronze die. This kit is certainly not commonplace in the everyday kitchen, and frankly you can pair this sauce with any pasta shape you like. We recommend a member of the pasta lunga (long pasta) family, as the long strands gather the sauce with ease. Try your hand at making pappardelle or tagliatelle following our simple guides. If you want to echo mafalde's iconic shape without the traditional equipment, prepare a flat sheet of pasta, as you would pappardelle or tagliatelle. Instead of folding and cutting, run a fluted pastry wheel along the dough, forming long, wavy strips of pasta.
- Preheat your oven to around 200 degrees celsius. Halve your red peppers, ensuring to remove the core and seeds, before placing on a roasting tray and drizzling with a tbsp of olive oil. Season with salt and pepper, and place in the oven for around 30 minutes, or until softened and slightly charred.
Chef's tip: If you're preparing your own fresh pasta, now is a good time to do so. For a vegan pasta dough to pair with this plant-based sauce, we have a fool-proof guide to pasta bianca (white pasta).
- Once well roasted, remove the peppers from the oven and allow to cool for around 10 minutes. Once cool enough to handle, remove as much of the skin as possible and discard - this imparts a slightly bitter flavour to the sauce. Roughly chop the remaining flesh.
- Set to one side, while you heat the remaining oil in a large saucepan. Once heated, add your chopped tomatoes, and allow to fry for around 5 minutes. Once the tomatoes begin to soften, lightly crush the mixture, until a rugged sauce forms. At this point, add the roasted flesh of your red peppers, as well as the salt and pepper, and continue to crush and mix until well combined. Add a splash of water to loosen the mixture is necessary, before covering with a lid, and allowing to cook on a low to medium heat for around 20 minutes, so the tomatoes break down and reduce further.
- Once the sauce appears thick and shiny, remove from the heat, and add the fresh basil, stirring to combine. Check for seasoning once more, and adjust as necessary.
- Place a pan of generously salted water over a high heat. Once boiling, add your mafalde, and cook for around 3 minutes. Strain the pasta and transfer to the pepper sauce, tossing the mixture until well combined. If needed, you can always loosen your sauce with a tablespoon or so of the starchy pasta water.
- Once combined, plate, top with a few shreds of fresh basil and serve. Buon appetito.
What better way to complete this homage to Sardinia, than with a refreshing Mirto spritz? For more ways to bring Sardinia to your home, be sure to stop by our ‘Visit Sardinia’ page.