There is something magical about the simplicity of a sauce made almost entirely of vegetables. Clean, pure, tasting of nothing but the actual vegetable. While tomato sauce often gets top billing in the sauce world, particularly when you’re talking pasta, silky purées of roasted red peppers deserve their day in the sun.
Roasting bell peppers is one of the first things I mastered in the kitchen, after flipping through endless cookbooks and magazines to figure out the best way to proceed, particularly without the benefit of a gas range. The process, which I show in How to: Roast a Bell Pepper, is surprisingly simple, and results in peppers that embody the flavor and smokiness that I imagine they would take on if they grew in soil neighboring a fire pit.
Since roasted peppers are such a powerful and memorable ingredient in sandwiches, snacks, salads, soups and pastas (like this appetizer, this pasta, this panini and this soup recipe), I often roast several peppers at a time. After peeling and slicing the peppers, I store them in airtight containers with olive oil for up to a week. Before using them, I give them a quick rinse to wash off the extra olive oil.
When you have a good base ingredient, such as roasted peppers, you need little else to turn out a vibrant, flavorful sauce – vegetable broth to make it sauce-like, a touch of acid (balsamic vinegar in this case) to wake up the taste buds, a palmful of minced fresh parsley and salt and pepper (of course!)
I choose to serve the sauce with gnocchi (I use this whole wheat version) when I’m in a hurry), but it works just as well with pasta or even spooned over cooked fish or chicken.
Other healthy vegetarian dinner recipes:
Cookin’ Canuck’s Hearty Mushroom, Farro & Ginger Soup
Cookin’ Canuck’s Vegetarian Enchilada Stuffed Spaghetti Squash
The Lemon Bowl’s Asparagus Pasta Salad with Creamy Peanut Dressing
Cookie+Kate’s Spiced Vegan Lentil Soup
Ambitious’ Kitchen’s Crunchy Cashew Thai Quinoa Salad with Ginger Peanut Dressing
Whole Wheat Gnocchi with Roasted Red Pepper Sauce
- 1 teaspoon olive oil
- 1/2 yellow onion chopped
- 2 garlic cloves minced
- 3/4 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon ground pepper
- 3 roasted red peppers 6 halves see How to Roast a Bell Pepper
- 3/4 cup vegetable broth
- 1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
- 1 pound whole wheat gnocchi
- 1/4 cup minced flat-leaf parsley
- salt and pepper to taste
- freshly grated Parmesan cheese if desired
- Heat the olive oil in a large nonstick skillet set over medium heat.
- Add the onions and cook until tender, about 5 minutes. Add garlic, oregano, salt and pepper, and cook for 1 minute.
- Place the roasted red peppers in the bowl of a food processor. Add the onion mixture, vegetable broth and balsamic vinegar. Puree until the mixture is smooth. Transfer the sauce to the large skillet and heat over medium heat.
- Cook the gnocchi according to package directions. Drain and add the gnocchi to the sauce, along with the parsley. Stir to combine. Serve with Parmesan cheese and season with additional salt and pepper, if desired.
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