Pasta with Roasted Red Pepper & Goat Cheese Sauce

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Happy middle of March! Who cares about mid-March you say?? I do! Mid-March means the NCAA basketball tournament. I love the Madness! The brackets, the buzzer-beaters, the underdogs, the team spirit, the heart and soul… I love it all!

This weekend has been a little bit of a roller-coaster for me though. I’ve enjoyed my time glued to the couch, flipping between games. But then my hometown VCU Rams fizzled out in the first round. My Virginia Cavaliers and South Carolina Gamecocks each had strong second halves to win their respective first round games. We went to Greenville, SC to hang out with my brothers and immerse ourselves in the tournament festivities downtown, which was really fun! But then… UVA lost in the second round in pretty much the most soul-crushing fashion imaginable. So that was definitely a down moment. And by down I mean, I may or may not have shed a tear or two.
I pretended it didn’t happen today and watched the games all afternoon. This pasta dish may not be your most traditional game-day food, but we enjoyed it none the less.

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Pasta with Roasted Red Pepper and Goat Cheese Sauce

Ingredients: 
  • 8oz pasta
  • 2 large red bell peppers
  • 2 tsp olive oil, divided
  • 2 tbsp milk
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 6oz herbed goat cheese
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1/8 tsp crushed red pepper flakes (or to taste)
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 5 turns of fresh ground black pepper
Instructions:
  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
  2. Rub 1 tsp of olive oil over the peppers and place them on a foil-lined cookie sheet. Roast peppers for 30 minutes. They will begin to blister.
  3. Allow the peppers to cool slightly. Remove the seeds and stems.
  4. Place the peppers and the milk into a food processor. Give it a few spins until you have a nice puree.
  5. Meanwhile, heat the other 1 tsp of olive oil over medium heat.
  6. Mince the garlic and brown in the olive oil for ~3-4 minutes.
  7. Turn heat down to low and add the red pepper puree, goat cheese, and all of the remaining spices to the pan.
  8. Cook over low heat for ~15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until ingredients are well-combined and heated through.
  9. As the sauce is coming together, prepare your pasta.
  10. Serve sauce overtop of pasta and enjoy!
Makes 2 large servings or 4 smaller side dish servings.
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Goat Cheese Smothered Spaghetti Squash

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Spaghetti squash is one of those things that if you look on Pinterest, it seems that everyone is making. I had never made spaghetti squash before tonight! I’ve been wanting to, because I wanted to be cool like the other Pinterest-ers basically. When I mentioned this to Selim, he said, “I mean don’t people just pour sauce on top like it’s regular spaghetti?” So, I knew what I wasn’t making with the spaghetti squash.

What I did make was a veggie-heavy dish, that is a bit rich from the goat cheese. The spinach, dill, and goat cheese shine together, and who doesn’t love the combination of garlic, onions, and bacon in anything??

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Goat Cheese Smothered Spaghetti Squash

Ingredients: 
  • 1 large spaghetti squash
  • 2 strips of bacon
  • 3 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 small onion, coarsely diced
  • 6oz log of goat cheese (divided)
  • 2 tbsp water
  • 1 tbsp dill
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 8oz of fresh spinach
  • Fresh ground black pepper
Instructions: 
  1. With a large, sharp knife, slice the spaghetti squash in half. Remove the seeds and other refuse.
  2. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place squash halves face-down on a cookie sheet. Add a couple spoonfuls of water to the pan. Roast for 45 minutes.
  3. With 5-10 minutes left in the squash roasting time, cut your bacon into small lardons. Cook over medium heat in a large pan with tall sides for 5 minutes.
  4. Once bacon has released some of its fat, add the onions and garlic to the pan. Grind 3 turns of black pepper on top. Stir briefly to coat with bacon fat. Cover the pan and sweat for 8 minutes, stirring once.
  5. In a small bowl or ramekin, stir together the water and 1 oz of goat cheese. It does not have to be smooth or fully combined.
  6. Add the water/goat cheese, dill and salt to the pan. Stir a few times so all ingredients are combined.
  7. Lower heat just a bit (I went from 5 to 4 on my stove). Add the spinach and cover. Keep lid on for 3-4 minutes. The spinach will wilt and shrink in size greatly. (If you can’t fit all of your spinach in the pan, you can add it in two batches.)
  8. Using a fork, scrape spaghetti squash into the pan.
  9. Add the rest of the goat cheese to the pan, in divided chunks.
  10. Stir, stir, stir. Stir for several minutes, ensuring the cheese melts and the squash “noodles” separate and become thoroughly coated.
  11. Taste and add more salt and pepper as needed.
Serves 4.

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