I suspect I'm not the only person out there who's developed an unhealthy midweek dependency on pasta. I mean, you walk in the door at 7:00 (8:30 if you're good and go to the gym), poke the pork chops you meant to transfer from freezer to fridge last night but of course didn't do until this morning, find them still frozen—what are you supposed to do? Pasta is just too convenient for its own good.
That's not to say there's anything wrong with pasta; to the contrary, I adore the stuff. But week in and week out, it can get a little boring—especially since, when I have little time and a sparse pantry, I tend to churn out uninspired variants of the same few preparations.
This sauce was born on a desperate evening not long after our "Wine, Cheese & Wii Party" in February, when I had leftover jars of piquillo peppers in the cupboard, ricotta cheese in the fridge, and frozen peas in the freezer. I love piquillo peppers, and the thought of pasta coated with their sweet and slightly smoky flavor was not unappealing. The ricotta adds a touch of creaminess, peas sweetness, and Parmigiano a salty counter-note. The pine nuts were a spur-of-the-moment addition—I had toasted up a few for a salad, and realized they would taste even better in the pasta. I think I was right on that count. And fusilli's tight spirals trap the velvety sauce exceedingly well. This recipe actually makes more than enough for a pound of pasta, so save some for other uses (sandwiches or veggie dip, perhaps?).
PASTA WITH PIQUILLO PEPPER PUREE, PEAS, AND PINE NUTS
2 220-gram jars piquillo peppers, drained 1 cup ricotta cheese 10 cloves roasted garlic 1 cup grated Parmigiano 1/4 teaspoon smoked Spanish paprika Salt and pepper to taste 1 pound fusilli or similarly shaped pasta 1 cup baby peas (to cook, place in a strainer set over the pasta pot during the last minute or two of cooking) 1/2 cup toasted pine nuts
For piquillo pepper puree, blend peppers, ricotta, garlic, Parmigiano, and paprika in a food processor until smooth. Season with salt and pepper. Toss cooked pasta with peas, pine nuts, and enough sauce to coat well.