Penne with Bell Peppers, Capers, and Anchovies


I had no idea how many farms around here grew bell peppers until I noticed them EVERYWHERE on my long bike ride last Saturday.  Seeing all those red peppers at their peak (and still on the plant!) gave me a strong urge to cook with them.  This recipe is great for this time of year – comforting but not too rich, and since I adore capers, I loved it!  Don’t let the inclusion of anchovies deter you – they just add another layer of flavor but you don’t really taste them.

(adapted from The Glorious Soups and Stews of Italy by Domenica Marchetti)
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

2 cloves garlic, smashed
1 small red onion, finely chopped
3 red bell peppers, seeded and cut into thin (1/4-inch) slices
1 yellow bell pepper, seeded and cut into thin (1/4-inch) slices
1 teaspoon sweet Hungarian paprika
1/2 teaspoon salt, to taste
4 imported Italian anchovy fillets in olive oil, chopped
1 tablespoon capers, drained and coarsely chopped
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
1 tablespoon minced flat-leaf parsley
13.25 oz whole wheat penne
Freshly grated Parmesan cheese (optional)

Directions:

In a large skillet on medium heat, add the oil and garlic. 

Stir in the onion and cook for 5 minutes, until the onion is shiny and softened. 
Add the sliced peppers and cook, stirring frequently, over medium to medium-high heat for 10 minutes. 
Add the paprika and salt. 
Cover the pan and reduce heat to medium-low, simmering gently for about 15 minutes or until the peppers are tender but not mushy. 
Uncover and stir occasionally to prevent the peppers from sticking to the pan. 
Add the anchovies and capers, stirring to combine well. 
Increase the heat to medium-high and add the vinegar. 
Cook for another minute or two, then remove from the heat and add the parsley. 
Reheat on low when the pasta is almost cooked.

Meanwhile, in a large pot over medium-high heat, bring salted water to a boil. 

Add the penne and cook according to package directions, taking care not to overcook it. 
Drain the pasta, reserving about 1 cup of the cooking water, and return the pasta to the pot.

Spoon about three-quarters of the sauce into the pasta and toss well to combine. 

Add a tablespoon or two of cooking water, if necessary, to loosen the sauce. 
Divide the pasta among four shallow bowls and spoon a little of the remaining sauce over each portion. 
Sprinkle with cheese, if desired. 
Serve hot.
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