To char and peel red peppers, turn on gas flame (indoors or out) and put pepper directly on the grate. Turn until blackened and blistered and charred all over. Transfer to a brown paper bag, fold opening over, and let sit 10 minutes until easy to handle. Peel and seed. Alternatively, use jarred peppers.  Note to self: the top should be brown and crusty looking. Combined with the creaminess below, the textures are married perfectly. 

Al Forno's Pasta in the Pink with Red Pepper Puree


  • 4 red bell peppers, charred and peeled

  • 1/2 cup chopped canned tomatoes in heavy puree

  • 2 cups heavy cream

  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Pecorino Romano cheese

  • 1/2 cup coarsely shredded fontina (1 1/2 ounces)

  • 2 tablespoons ricotta

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt

  • 1 pound imported conchiglie rigate or any sturdy, short pasta

  • 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter




1. Preheat oven to 500 degrees F.

2. Bring 5 quarts of salted water to a boil in a stockpot.

3. Halve the peppers, remove the seeds, and puree them in a blender. You should have about 1 cup of puree.

4. In a large bowl, combine all the ingredients except pasta shells and butter.

5. Parboil the pasta for 4 minutes. Drain and add to the ingredients in the bowl, tossing to combine.

6. Divide the pasta mixture among 6-8 individual, shallow, ceramic gratin dishes (1 1/2-2 cups capacity). Dot with butter and bake until bubbly and brown on top, about 7-10 minutes.

Serves 6 TO 8