Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Rigatoni with Grilled Peppers and Onions

Last night's dinner was the perfect meal to support why I need an herb garden in my back yard. The dish calls for fresh basil, so I bought some at the store. UNFORTUNATELY, I bought the basil a week ago and apparently didn't use it quickly enough, because when I went to add it to the dish the leaves were starting to brown, and a taste test confirmed that the flavor of the basil was definitely starting to sharpen. So, sadly, I had to omit it from the recipe. See, if I had an herb garden, I would have been able to just walk outside my door and pluck a few leaves. Sigh. Maybe one day.

I have to say, though, that even without the basil this was a delicious dinner. I did add chicken to give it a little more substance (my husband is a carnivore), and I used multi-colored sweet peppers, but other than that I didn't change a thing. I know that fall will be upon us soon (even though today it certainly doesn't feel like it, it's 95° here), so I'm trying to get a few more summery meals in before it's time to switch to fall food, and this tasted like the best of summer. The taste of grilled peppers is just about my favorite taste in the world!

Rigatoni with Grilled Peppers and Onions
Source: Real Simple

2 medium red onions, sliced into rings
2 large red bell peppers, cut into quarters (I used three sweet peppers: one red, one yellow, one orange)
2 chicken breasts
Olive oil
Kosher salt and pepper
12 ounces (4 to 5 cups) rigatoni (I used 1 box)
1 bunch spinach, stems trimmed, or one 5-ounce package
1 cup (about 3 1/2 ounces) grated Parmesan
3/4 cup basil leaves, thinly sliced

1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Heat a grill or grill pan to medium-high. In a large bowl, toss the onions, bell peppers, oil, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Grill, turning occasionally, until tender, 8 to 10 minutes. Transfer to a cutting board and cut into bite-size pieces.

2. While vegetables are grilling, season chicken with salt and pepper and pan-fry in olive oil until cooked through. Let rest, then slice.

3. Cook the pasta according to the package directions. Reserve 1 cup of the cooking water, drain the pasta, and return the pasta to the pot. Add the grilled vegetables, spinach, chicken, the reserved pasta water, and 3/4 cup of the Parmesan to the pasta and toss to combine. Top with the basil and the remaining Parmesan before serving.

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