I happen to love roasted red peppers. I mean….loooooooove. Maybe it’s because I grew up eating them. I guess it’s an Italian thing. Whilst most kids were eating peanut butter and jelly on Wonder Bread, I was snarfing down roasted red peppers dressed with fresh garlic and olive oil on slices of chewy Italian bread. (The good life, baby!)
I’ve been craving (the inspiration for most of my recipes) a roasted red pepper cream sauce lately and wondered if I could try it out using cashew milk in place of the cream. The results were wonderful. Another reason I absolutely adore cashew milk.
I did run into a problem with how to serve the sauce. Zucchini noodles, a/k/a zoodles, were just too strong and overpowered the sauce. Another problem with zoodles is that they can tend to get a little watery, thus diluting sauces. This is ONE sauce that you DO NOT want to dilute!
Problem solved when I tried spaghetti squash as a “macaroni” of sorts. (“Pasta” isn’t in my Italian Mom’s vernacular. It’s “macaroni”…always “macaroni”.) With a milder taste and dryer texture, it worked out especially well.
If you’ve never roasted a pepper – don’t fret! It’s super easy to do and the results are well worth the effort. If you are currently eating roasted red peppers out of a jar – DON’T tell me. Not only is this against everything I believe in, a pepper in a jar just doesn’t come close to a freshly roasted pepper – in taste or texture.
As an aside, I NEVER serve food to my family that looks like the picture above. I happened to be in a creative mood at the time. To serve in reality, I threw the shrimp on the plates, drizzled on the sauce, tossed the spaghetti squash with more sauce and plopped it on plates. It still tasted gooooood.
I think this sauce would also be nice on a piece of grilled mild fish such as mahi or sea bass, on scallops or even gluten free pasta – if you’re not grain free. I would love to hear your ideas on how to use this sauce in the comments below…
- 1 spaghetti squash
- 2-3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- ⅓ cup pine nuts
- 1½ lbs. shrimp, peeled and cleaned
- salt & pepper to taste
- 3 sweet red peppers
- 2 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- salt & pepper to taste
- 1 cup cashew milk
- fresh basil, finely chopped (optional)
- Preheat the oven to 375F. Line an oven rack with aluminum foil. Prick the spaghetti squash in several places and place in the oven whole. Bake until tender - a sharp fork should pierce easily, but DO NOT over bake (40 minutes or so).
- Prepare the peppers: Keep the aluminum foil on the oven rack from the squash and place the three peppers spaced apart on the foil. Turn the broiler on to high and broil until the skins turn nice and black. With tongs, turn the peppers so the skin gets charred on all sides. Remove the peppers from the oven and place in a bowl. Cover the top with foil and allow to sit for 10 minutes, or, if you're like me, when you remember that they're waiting on you. This will make removing the skins easy. Once time is up, get a small bowl of water to keep close by. Peel off the skins and remove the seeds. If seeds are sticking to everything, give peppers a quick dip in the water to clean them off.
- Heat a large saute pan to medium-low. Add pine nuts and toast until slightly golden. They burn easily, so keep shaking the pan and stay close. When golden, remove from pan and set aside to cool.
- For the sauce: Place roasted peppers in a blender. Blend until barely smooth. (Not pulverized, but not chunky.) Heat a small saute pan to medium. Once hot, add olive oil and garlic. Saute garlic for about 30 seconds or until fragrant. Add pureed peppers and stir. Add cashew cream, salt and pepper and whisk. Keep whisking until bubbly and starting to thicken. Remove from heat.
- For the shrimp: In the same saute pan that you used to toast the pine nuts, heat to medium. When pan is hot, add olive oil and shrimp. Saute just until the shrimp (or is it shrimps?) turn pink and are fully cooked. (Overcooking makes them rubbery. No one wants to eat shrimp-flavored rubber for dinner.) Salt and pepper to taste.
- Assembly: Cut ends off roasted spaghetti squash. Slice in half lengthwise. Scoop out seeds. Using a large fork, scrape and remove the strands, placing in bowl. Add some roasted red pepper sauce and give a toss. At this point, you can toss in the shrimp, adding more sauce, or serve shrimp separately with sauce drizzled on top.
- Top with fresh basil, if desired.