Monday, September 26, 2011

Roasted Red Pepper Cream Sauce with Balsamic Reduction

I love this pasta sauce.  I first tried it at a nice restaurant about five years ago, in the central Washington town we lived in at the time.  It was actually served over lobster ravioli there, but that's not really easy to get here.  ;)  We've had this twice in the last month; the first time, I used frozen cheese ravioli, and the last time, I meant to get that again but got tortellini on accident.  Both ways are very good. 

This makes a ton of sauce.  One thing I was thinking of doing was cutting the half-and-half amount in half but keeping everything else the same.  I just kept it as-is though because the leftovers taste even better than the first time.  (The sauce is also supposed to freeze well!)  I use bottled roasted red peppers instead of roasting them myself; for directions on how to do that, visit the original link.  You may wish to thicken the sauce; I've had it both ways and they are both good.  To thicken, mix some cornstarch with a bit of the half-and-half before mixing it into the sauce. 

A balsamic reduction is easy to do- just simmer balsamic vinegar for a while, until it reduces in volume and turns syrupy.  Beware: I've made this quite successfully a few times, but the last time I tried to do it, I was stressed out and had a million other things going on in the kitchen.  I left it alone for too long and it burned- badly.  There may have been tears.  My husband spent quite a while chiseling out hard, black, burned vinegar solids from my pan.  And the smell!  Lol.  Make your balsamic reduction a few hours before using so that it can cool off and get even thicker. 

The balsamic reduction really makes this dish- I ran out of it when I ate my leftovers.  I tried drizzling some regular balsamic over my pasta but it wasn't the same..... at all.  Make the reduction!  (Unless you have a really expensive, old, syrupy Balsamic on hand already...... but I sure don't). 
Roasted Red Pepper Cream Sauce with Balsamic Reduction
Sauce from Allrecipes; Reduction from Ehow

Balsamic Vinegar Reduction:
1/4 to 1/2 cup good-quality Balsamic Vinegar

1.  Pour the balsamic vinegar into a heavy saucepan. Use enough so that you allow for it to reduce by half.  Heat the pan to medium-high.

2.  Whisk briskly, even prior to boiling. Once it starts boiling, reduce to a simmer, and keep whisking constantly to prevent burning.

3.  Reduce by half, or until the vinegar takes on a syrupy quality. Allow to cool.  Store in an airtight container at room temp.  Make a few hours before using to allow to come to room temp and thicken.

Roasted Red Pepper Cream Sauce:
16. oz jar roasted red peppers, well-drained
2 tablespoons minced garlic
1/4 cup fresh basil
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 cups half-and-half
1/4 cup grated Romano or Parmesan cheese
1-2 tablespoons butter
salt and pepper to taste

1.  In a skillet, cook and stir the garlic, basil, and roasted red peppers in 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium heat. Cook for 10 minutes, so that the flavors mix.

2.  Place mixture in blender (careful it is hot), and puree to desired consistency. Return puree to skillet, and reheat to a boil. (Or, carefully use an immersion blender.  It's harder to use one in a skillet though, so be careful of spatters, etc).  Stir in the half-and-half (add some corn starch with the half and half, if desired, to thicken).  Add the Romano or Parmesan cheese; cook and stir until the cheese melts. Add the butter, and stir until melted. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Simmer for 5 minutes.               

3.  Serve over pasta, and drizzle with balsamic vinegar reduction.
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