Talk about online food shopping gone wrong. How on earth did I manage to order 4 red peppers the size of my head (no exaggeration). I know I’m relatively knew to the world of online shopping, but who even knew these freaky fruits existed? I stood staring in disbelief at the 4 ‘giant’ peppers lying higgledy-piggledy on my kitchen counter, dwarfing everything in their wake. At first, I laughed, until I checked my order and realised they were £3.95 EACH! Fifiteen effing pounds! I could have ordered a Domino’s pizza for that price.
“I do understand you’re upset, Ms Heale. However, the product name does state that these are giant peppers,” said Ocado.
“Yes, but ‘giant’ to me is just ‘a bit bigger than average’,” I protested. “What you gave me was a monstrosity, a freak of nature! I mean, who even knew peppers came in that size? I want my money back.”
“I will be unable to refund you on this occasion.”
“But on your website the picture doesn’t give any idea of scale. If you had photographed one of the peppers next to a small dog or held it up to someone’s face, then I would have realised!”
“I am sorry, we will not be able to offer a refund for these items, as there were no quality or damage issues.”
“Is it too late to say that they’re damaged?”
So, I was stuck with them and, to make matters worse, I couldn’t even fit them in my fridge. Time was of the essence, these oafish fruits were not going to stay ripe for much longer, so I roasted the bastards and made this rather delicious puttanesca. Take that, Ocado!
Red pepper puttanesca
Serves 4 / Hands on time 40 mins / Total time 40 mins / V❄
You’ll need: A food processor or hand blender
80g vegetarian Italian hard cheese or *Parmesan, grated
Handful of fresh parsley, chopped
150g pitted black olives
6 tsp of capers
Red pepper sauce
1 tsp olive oil
1 jar of roasted red peppers (drained weight 350g)
¼ tsp smoked paprika
1 white onion, roughly chopped
2 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
1 tbs vegetarian red wine (optional)
125ml vegetable stock, I use ½ a Knorr stock pot
2 tbs Greek yogurt
1. Sweat the chopped onion and garlic in a tsp of oil over a medium heat for about 10 minutes with the lid on (add a dash of water if required to help the onions steam and prevent burning). Once softened, add the paprika, season well the with salt and continue to cook for a further couple of minutes.
2. Drain and roughly chop the peppers and add to the onions before pouring in the wine and the stock. Bring to the boil and continue to cook for a further 10 minutes.
3. Meanwhile, put the spaghetti in a large saucepan of salted boiling water and cook according to the packet instructions. Use this time to also roughly chop the olives, grate the cheese and chop the parsley.
4. Once the sauce has thickened, take off the heat and add 2 tbs of water along with 2 tbs of yogurt. Blend with a hand-blender until smooth – although if you like a slightly chunky sauce don’t blend it too much. Put to one side.
5. Once cooked, drain the pasta and give it a shake before pouring straight into the red pepper sauce. Mix well and start to incorporate the olives, capers and half of the parsley (I find using a fork and spoon easiest as you can pull the spaghetti apart to help everything integrate). Divide into bowls and top with a sprinkling of cheese, the rest of the parsley and a good drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.
If you’ve had a go at making my puttanesca or any of my other recipes, I’d love to hear about it @corrieheale firstname.lastname@example.org
❄– The red pepper sauce is suitable for home freezing once cooled. Freeze for up to 3 months.
* Parmesan (Parmigiano Reggiani) is always made using animal rennet, therefore it is not vegetarian. Substitute for Italian hard cheese if applicable.