There’s this picture on Pinterest of Roasted Red Pepper and Goat Cheese Pasta that I’ve been oogling for quite a while now. It looks divinely creamy, and creamy pasta is my Achilles heel. The recipe comes from Lauren’s Latest - an impressive blog full of loads more delicious recipes to oogle. Although the recipe is full of dairy, I’ve got to give props to Lauren for using fat-free half and half and tummy-friendly goat cheese to make the pasta dish. One day, when I want to treat myself, I will make this recipe without any deviations and I am positive it will make my mouth water. However, this week, I wanted to make a large portion so that we had leftovers, and I didn’t want to subject my stomach to tons of creamy milk products night after night. Even goat cheese has its limits when it comes to cheese-sensitive tummies. So, I HRX-ed (healthy recipe ecstasy-ed) the recipe — much to Alasdair’s chagrin.
I doubled the recipe but kept the amount of cheese the same (essentially cutting the amount of cheese in half), and I swapped out the half and half for soy milk. Because I took out some of the creaminess I had to add some extra flavor to make up for it. Fortunately, I had a ton of extra fennel from the pork sandwich fiasco that was languishing in my fridge just begging to be used up.
INGREDIENTS (makes 4-5 large servings):
4 whole red bell peppers
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 small onions, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 fennel bulb, chopped
1 cup fennel stems, chopped
1 cup soy milk
4 oz. garlic & herb goat cheese
1/2 cup grated Pecorino-Romano or Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
1 pound linguine (I used regular pasta for this dish but you can easily use whole-wheat or brown rice pasta depending on your dietary needs)
Freshly-ground black pepper
Preheat oven to 500 degrees. Place red peppers on baking sheet and bake 20-30 minutes until peppers are charred. Remove from oven and cover with foil for 10 minutes.
In the mean time, saute onions, garlic and chopped fennel bulb in olive oil 7 minutes or until tender in a large sauce pan.
Uncover peppers, peel off skin and remove stem and seeds. Chop the peppers into large pieces.
Pour soy milk, goat cheese, and salt & pepper to taste into the sauce pan. Stir to melt goat cheese into sauce and keep warm over low heat. Add the chopped red peppers along with Pecorino or Parmigiano cheese. Stir to melt cheese and remove from heat.
Pour sauce into food processor and puree, or use an immersion blender.
Place the sauce back into the hot pan and toss with cooked pasta and chopped fennel stem. Taste and adjust seasonings. Top with more Pecorino or Parmigiano cheese, pepper, salt, basil and fennel leaves.
Healthy Recipe Ecstasy? This is what I like to call a comfort food compromise. It’s just creamy enough to feel like I’m being naughty but not so creamy that I feel sick. Increasing the veggies and herbs ups the health factor, and the fennel stems thrown in towards the end add a bit of crunch. Also, the flavors are really subtle, which is what I like about most comfort foods. It’s not a spicy shock to the system. It’s not going to knock your socks off. But that’s the beauty of it. Eating this plate of pasta lulls you into a satiated food coma so you can relax for the night with a full tummy.