I’ve been meaning to try this recipe for some time; l even went out and bought a jar of roasted red peppers some months ago (long before I made my own roasted red peppers: see THIS post for the steps). Then life happened and I completely forgot that I had this recipe sitting in my “to make” folder. At least, until now!
I usually have a personal rule that if I’m writing a recipe review, I stick to the recipe exactly as-is, so that I can give it a fair review as it was written. However, in this case, I will admit that made some ingredient and method substitutions, some due to pantry availability, and some for flavour enhancement. As for ingredients, I used “Better Than Bouillon” vegetable broth concentrate instead of chicken stock, I reduced the red pepper flakes to a single pinch (lest my esophagus rise up and try to strangle me), two shallots instead of an onion (no reason other than I wanted to use up my shallots), and 1% milk plus 1 tablespoon of butter instead of cream (I had already used my cream in another dish and forgot to repurchase).
Review: on the positive side, the recipe is pretty straightforward and doesn’t contain any difficult to acquire or expensive items (especially if you make your own roasted red peppers and keep them on hand). The prep and cook time were pretty close to accurate (10 minutes each) for my kitchen setup, considering you are boiling the water at the same time you are sautéing the vegetables. I might recommend that you wait until the water is boiling to start the sautéing of the initial veggies, for a better timing of the final product. Baby spinach does not react well to being cooked for too long.
As for method substitutions, I ended up not adding the pasta water because I wasn’t using cream, and used a spider (metal netted basket on a stick; you can just use a slotted spoon) to scoop the nearly-done pasta directly into the pan containing the sauce. I then mixed it together and finished the cooking on medium-low with a lid to help keep the steam in and cook the pasta to doneness. I felt with such a minimalist flavour going on, the pasta could use a “glow-up” by absorbing some of the flavoured sauce. Worked out very well, as the sauce was a tad runny at that stage (due to the 1%) and easily absorbed into the pasta.
While these substitutions will change the flavour and consistency somewhat, I feel it was for the better. However, next time I would use table cream in order to make a creamier end product. I also saw many reviews that said they didn’t bother with the chicken stock and just added more pasta water, and I’d probably do that next time as well. I also couldn’t fathom that there is no salt or pepper added to this dish, so I added some near the end stage of cooking.
I think there are a number of elements you can modify in this recipe to make it your own, and if I were to make this recipe again, I would continue to heavily substitute to make it more flavourful than the original recipe.
So enough yakking; please see below for my attempted replication of (more like homage to) Delish website’s 2016 recipe, Creamy Roasted Red Pepper Penne!
Delish’s Creamy Roasted Red Pepper Penne
YIELD: 4 servings | PREP: 10 mins | COOK: 10 mins
- 12 oz penne
- 1 tbsp/15mL extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 onion, sliced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 3 cups baby spinach
- 1 cup sliced jarred roasted red peppers
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 1/2 cup low-sodium chicken broth
- 1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
- Freshly grated Parmesan, for serving
- In a large pot of boiling well-salted water, cook penne according to package directions until al dente. Drain, reserving 1 cup pasta water, and return to pot.
- Meanwhile, in a large skillet over medium heat, heat oil. Add onion and garlic and cook until soft, 5 minutes, then add spinach and roasted red peppers. Cook until wilted and warmed through, 3 minutes.
- Stir in heavy cream, broth, and 1/4 cup pasta water and bring to a simmer.
- Add cooked penne to pan and stir until coated, then season with crushed red pepper flakes.
- Garnish with Parmesan and serve.