Smoky Paprika Pasta
Technically, this dish should really be called Super Quick and Easy Smoky Paprika Roasted Red Pepper Pasta. But I thought that name was a little too long…so I shortened it.
Where to start?!!!! There are sooooo many things about this dish that I LOVE. First, it comes together SO. INCREDIBLY. QUICKLY. If you play your cards right, this dish basically comes together in the time it takes to boil your pasta. How amazing is that?? And even if you’re not a whiz at timing things in the kitchen, this meal still comes together in under 30 minutes. So that means you have no excuse not to turn to this recipe on a busy weeknight. Just leave that freezer meal…well…in the freezer, and make this instead!
Second, paprika, smoked paprika, and roasted red bell peppers are a match made in heaven. I could eat this sauce all day long and still want more. And maybe I will! Thanks to the flavor and juices of the roasted red bell pepper, you just don’t need oil in this sauce. Feel a little better about eating a ton of pasta because your sauce is oil free!
You’ve probably noticed that food smokers are THE thing right now. Even if you don’t eat meat, food smokers are super popular for smoking vegetables, even nuts. But if you’re like me, you probably don’t have a smoker—they’re kind of expensive. And huge.
So this Smoky Paprika Pasta is my answer to those food smoker recipes that are all the rage these days. The smoked paprika, roasted red bell peppers, and liquid smoke in this sauce give you all that delicious smoky-ness without a food smoker.
What is liquid smoke, you may ask? That is the third thing I love about this sauce. Liquid smoke is basically just smoky BBQ perfection in a bottle. Don’t ask me how it’s done, but some genius literally figured out how to put that wonderful flavor in liquid form. You basically just need to buy a little bottle of this stuff and smell it to really understand what I mean! I love the Hickory and Mesquite liquid smoke flavors best. Here is my go-to brand. Give it a try!
You really don’t need a lot of liquid smoke to infuse a recipe with that smoky flavor. I absolutely love using this in pasta sauces and marinades, and it is a great addition to beans, particularly if you cook the beans from scratch. YUM. (I’ll be posting a liquid smoke bean recipe soon I promise!)
And you’ve heard me sing its praises before, but it bears repeating: nutritional yeast! Use it! LOVE it! I’ve got it as an optional ingredient here because the sauce will still taste amazing without it, but seriously, go get some nutritional yeast. Not only does it add that delicious, cheesy, nutty flavor, it also adds 6 grams of protein to this recipe. This stuff is good! Here’s my favorite.
Ok, now treat yourself to a quick and easy, insanely flavorful meal, and show those food smoker owners who’s boss, by making this Smoky Paprika Pasta!
Smoky Paprika Pasta
For the sauce:
- ½ cup pine nuts
- 2 garlic cloves
- ¾ tsp sea salt
- ¼ tsp paprika
- ¼ tsp smoked paprika
- ¼ tsp onion powder
- ¼ tsp garlic powder
- 1/8 tsp ground black pepper
- 3 tbsp Parmesan, optional
- 3 tbsp nutritional yeast, optional, but highly recommended
- 1 roasted red pepper, from a jar, or homemade if you’re awesome (just use your best estimate if the roasted red pepper is in pieces in your jar!)
- ½ tsp liquid smoke
- 1 pound pasta, I like to use fettuccini with this sauce
- 1 cup frozen peas
- 4 cups spinach
- 3 tbsp fresh parsley, minced, plus more for garnish
Make the pasta
- Cook the pasta according to package instructions. You can prepare the sauce while the pasta cooks to make this a super, super fast meal!
Make the sauce
- To the bowl of your food processor, add the pine nuts, garlic cloves, sea salt, paprika, smoked paprika, onion powder, garlic powder, black pepper, Parmesan (if using), and nutritional yeast (if using).
- Pulse a few times to get things going, then process until everything comes together and becomes small flecks.
- Now add the roasted red bell pepper and the liquid smoke to the food processor, and process until the pepper breaks down to small flecks. It will release all of its juices and turn the mixture into a sauce!
- Stop, scrape down the sides of the food processor bowl with your spatula, and process again. You want the sauce to be mostly smooth, but there will still be some texture. And remember, if the sauce tastes a little salty at this point, that is good! This sauce has to flavor a whole pound of pasta, so we want the flavor to be intense now, because it will dilute when spread out over the pasta. Sauce is done!
Bring it all together
- Once the pasta is finished cooking, drain it, put it back in the pot, and thrown in the frozen peas, 1 tbsp of parsley, and two cups of spinach. Toss—the heat of the pasta will warm the frozen peas through, and begin to wilt the spinach.
- Now add a third of the sauce to the pasta. At this point, I like to use tongs. After you’ve tossed everything a few times, add another third of the pasta sauce, 1 tbsp parsley, and the rest of the spinach. Toss some more to help that spinach continue to wilt, and get the sauce coating all the pasta.
- Add the last third of the sauce, and the remaining 1 tbsp parsley, and…toss again! Keep going until this remaining third of the sauce is fully incorporated.
- Garnish each plate of Smoky Paprika Pasta with more parsley and a little Parmesan, if desired. Serve alone, or with more greens and your favorite meat substitute. Enjoy!
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