Roasted red peppers give pasta sauce a kick

Detroit Free Press

I love the smooth texture and ultrarich flavor of cream sauces for pasta, which means extra fat and calories.

But you can dial back the numbers by swapping out the cream for another dairy ingredient like regular or fat-free half-and-half. In developing this recipe, I turned to cream cheese and roasted red peppers. When you roast red peppers, they become soft and sweet. You can then puree them into a thin sauce. To roast red peppers, place them under the broiler until they are blackened and charred on all sides.

Remove, place in a bowl and cover with plastic wrap. When cool enough to handle, remove the charred skin. And it’s OK if you don’t get all the skin off.

If you want to save time, buy jarred roasted red peppers.

Today’s dish was also a reminder of the new way I cook pasta — in a skillet. It requires about 1 1/2 quarts of cold water – not the typical 4 to 6 quarts called for in most directions. The cold water prevents the pasta from sticking together.

Shrimp with Spicy Roasted Red Pepper Cream

Serves: 4; preparation time: 15 minutes; total time: 40 minutes

8 ounces spaghetti

6 ounces roasted red peppers, drained

4 ounces 1/3-less-fat cream cheese, softened

1/2 cup low-sodium vegetable broth or chicken broth

3 garlic cloves, peeled, chopped

1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

1 1/4 pound cooked, peeled large shrimp

1/2 cup chopped parsley

6 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese

To prepare the pasta, place it in a large skillet and cover with water and season with kosher salt. Bring to a boil and cook, while stirring, until pasta is al dente. Much of the water will absorb into the pasta. Drain the pasta and keep warm.

Place the red peppers, cream cheese, vegetable broth and garlic in a food processor and process until smooth; scraping down the sides as needed. Pour mixture into a large skillet.

Cook over medium heat 5 minutes, stirring often, until thoroughly heated. Add the crushed red pepper flakes and shrimp, and cook, stirring occasionally, 2 to 3 minutes or until thoroughly heated. Remove from heat. Serve over hot cooked pasta. Sprinkle with parsley and Parmesan cheese.

Nutritional information not available.