AL FORNO'S PASTA IN THE PINK WITH RED PEPPER PUREE
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.
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