Why must airports have such bad food? Aside from a few amazing terminals, it’s like the airport is a food purgatory that bums me out every time I fly.
Rather than gamble as to the state of the airports I’m encountering while I’m on the road, I’m doing my best to bring food with me. The best contenders are foods that are better after they’ve sat, not liquid (of course), and easy to transport. This Roasted Red Pepper Pesto Pasta fits that bill to a tee.
So, I’ve taken to whipping this up when I’m home and saving the leftovers for the airport. It’s also pretty versatile, so, if I have some extra chicken or shrimp lying around, they get added to the mix. As does any crumbly cheese from feta to goat cheese or Cotija.
It’s one of those dishes that’s a springboard for whatever you have on hand and, so long as you keep some nuts, noodles, and roasted peppers in the pantry, it’s something you can throw together even on the most desperate of weeknights.
Roasted Pepper Pesto with Toasted Walnuts and Goat Cheese
- Difficulty: Easy
- Makes: 6 to 8 servings
- Total Time: 30 mins
- Hands-On Time: 15 mins
- 1 pound whole wheat spaghetti
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
- 1/2 yellow onion, halved and thinly sliced
- 1/4 cup tomato paste
- 8 roasted red peppers (or 1 (16 oz) jar), finely chopped
- 2 teaspoons sugar
- 2 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves
- 3/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 2/3 cup toasted and finely chopped walnuts
- 6 ounces fresh goat cheese (chevre), crumbled
Bring a large pot of heavily salted water to a boil over high heat. When it boils, add pasta and cook according to package directions. Reserve 1 1/2 cups of the pasta water then drain the pasta.
Meanwhile, heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. When it shimmers, add onion and cook until softened about 5 minutes. Stir in garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add tomato paste, roasted peppers, and sugar (more as needed to balance the tomatoes sourness), and cook until just thickened. Remove the pan from heat and transfer the mixture to a blender and process until very smooth, at least 2 minutes.
Wipe out the pan then return it to the stove over medium low heat, add the remaining olive oil and heat until it is shimmering. Add the thyme and red pepper flakes and cook until fragrant. Add the pasta, puree, and salt to the pan and stir to combine. Add 1 cup of the pasta water and cook over medium-low until sauce just clings to the noodle (add more pasta water as desired to thin the sauce). To serve, plate and top each serving with walnuts and a crumble of goat cheese.