You might think it a bit fussy to bother peeling your bell peppers, but it is a unique twist to this recipe that will make the finished texture worth it. Years ago I attended a cooking demonstration at the Colony on Longboat Key by the legendary Italian chef Marcella Hazan. She instructed us to use a vegetable peeler on the bell peppers, which was a novel method to the entire group. That simple technique stuck with me though, and I’ve employed it in this otherwise simple pasta dish. Burrata is a type of fresh mozzarella that has a creamy center. If you have trouble finding it, an equally delicious alternative would be fresh ricotta cheese. Both cheeses will have the quality of melting into the warm peppers and pasta, creating a creamy finale.
Bucatini with Melted Peppers & Burrata
- 3 bell peppers red, orange or yellow
- 1 anchovy
- 2 garlic cloves
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- freshly cracked black pepper
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- ¼ cup chopped Italian parsley
- 12 ounces bucatini or other long thick pasta such as spaghetti
- 2 ounces roughly fresh burrata or ricotta cheese
- Bring a large pot of water to boil for the pasta while you prepare the sauce.
- Using a vegetable peeler, peel the bell peppers before cutting them. It’s okay if some of the skin remains in the hard-to-reach areas. Remove the stems from the peppers, then cut in half and remove any remaining seeds or ribs. Cut into ½ long slices and set aside.
- 3.. On your cutting board, mash the anchovy with the side of a large knife, and chop it together with the garlic. Warm the olive oil in a large skillet and scrape the garlic and anchovy in the pan. Cook over medium heat, stirring, for one minute, then add the bell peppers and salt. Adjust the heat to medium low and cook, stirring, for 2-3 minutes. Cover the pan and cook for 20-30 minutes, until the peppers are very soft. You will need to check the peppers and stir every once in a while. If they start to get too dry, add a few tablespoons of water.
- When the peppers are satisfactorily cooked, salt the water, add the pasta and cook until just al dente. Use tongs to remove the pasta from the cooking water and drop directly into the peppers, which should still be over medium-low heat. (If you drain your pasta instead, be sure and save some of the pasta cooking water, about ½ cup).
- Taste the pasta and sauce for seasoning and add more salt if needed. Crack the black pepper in, and stir, adding enough pasta water to the pot to keep it well moistened and have a nice thick sauce. Cook the pasta like this for 2-3 minutes total.
- Remove the pasta to a serving bowl, or individual serving plates, and tear the burrata over top, or dollop on the ricotta if using. Serve immediately.