By the end of July, the phrase "no-cook sauce" holds great appeal on a weeknight -- even if pasta must boil on the stove. In this recipe, using store-bought garlic croutons is a quick way to inject more flavor into the dish, but the croutons are easy to make with day-old bread you have on hand: Cut a large clove of garlic in half and rub it on both sides of 3 large, crustless slices of 3/4-inch-thick bread. Cut into cubes and drizzle all sides with olive oil. Toast in a large, dry nonstick skillet over medium-high heat, shaking the skillet often, for 5 to 7 minutes, until the bread is crisp and golden brown. Then process according to the crouton directions below.
If you're lucky, you'll have enough rigatoni left over for a cold pasta breakfast. Serve with a crisp green salad.
Servings: 4 - 6
- 1 to 2 large red bell peppers (may omit steps and use 1 cup store-bought roasted peppers)
- 1 pound rigatoni or similarly shaped tubular pasta
- 1/4 cup slivered almonds
- 5 ounces store-bought garlic-flavored croutons
- 3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, warmed, or to taste
Char the bell pepper over the flame of a gas stovetop or under a broiler. Let the pepper become blistered and charred on one side, then rotate it until most of the skin is charred. Place the charred pepper in a bowl, cover with plastic wrap and let it steam/soften for 15 minutes while you prepare the pasta and bread crumbs.
Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook according to package directions (10 to-- minutes), stirring occasionally, until tender but firm to the bite. Drain and transfer to a large bowl; cover loosely to keep warm.
While the pasta is cooking, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spread the almonds on a rimmed baking sheet and bake for 8 to 10 minutes, shaking the pan occasionally. Transfer to the bowl of a food processor. Add the croutons and pulse until the mixture is finely chopped to the consistency of bread crumbs (you should have about 2 3/4 cups total). Add the mixture to the warm pasta and toss to combine.
Remove and discard the charred skin, stem and seeds from the bell pepper and cut the pepper into thin strips. Add to the pasta, then add the oil to taste, tossing to coat evenly. Serve warm.
Adapted from Giada De Laurentiis's "Everyday Pasta" (Clarkson Potter, 2007).
Tested by Bonnie S. Benwick.
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