The socials make me do it: red pepper sauce

I feel like cooks are divided into two camps these days. There’s the cookbook people, and internet recipe people. I wish I were both. I want to be both. My husband and friends have given me gorgeous cookbooks on Korean cuisine and Palestinian food.

My husband is a dedicated cookbook guy. He’ll see a sack of potatoes in the pantry and pull a couple of cookbooks out, perusing with a cup of coffee like he’s about to embark on a culinary journey. Which he actually does. He makes the best homemade kimchi I’ve ever had, and I grew up in D.C.’s Koreatown. He follows recipes, substituting as needed. There are mostly hits, a few misses. The pages with the hits are doggy-eared and speckled with tomato sauce and olive oil.

man cooking

Come to think of it, maybe he wasn’t really trying to bring me back to the cookbook side, like I was pre-internet. He may have been buying them for himself the whole time. He does that sometimes. But I can’t complain – this week he made a knockout potato dish with preserved lemon, onions, and capers – Mediterranean heaven.

Hot Cheetos and pickles

All this to say, I used to refer to cookbooks all the time. Then Instagram came along, with those fast-paced cooking videos and seductive cheese pulls. My husband would call it the low hanging fruit – but I was all in. Some recipes don’t require cooking. In fact, I have a PSA: Hot Cheetos and pickles are divine. I saw a video of a woman slicing giant pickles into discs, and dropping them into a bag of Hot Cheetos that she had crushed into a powder. You could see the flavor explosion in her reaction, and my son and I couldn’t wait to try it. We cannot get enough.

sliced red peppers

Red pepper sauce

I saw another trend picking up. Pureeing roasted red peppers into a sauce, then pouring over pasta. I've always liked roasted red peppers, thanks to Trader Joe's products from the early aughts (they put them in everything). I tried the trend. It was pretty good. But through experimentation, I realized the recipe I tried was a little plain, so I added garlic and saffron. Now it's a must-try! The dish is so simple, that you may only need to see this recipe once. You’ll just get it.

roasted red peppers


  • 1 lb of pasta (any shape)
  • 3 red peppers
  • 1 large onion
  • At least 4 large garlic cloves (to taste)
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 pinch of saffron threads (optional, but wow)
  • Shaved Parmesan cheese


  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees Farenheit
  • Slice onions and red peppers into strips
  • Peel garlic cloves, and slice them in half
  • Place the vegetables on a sheet pan, and drizzle with olive oil
  • Add salt and pepper to taste
  • Rub a pinch of saffron over the pan, breaking the stamen into little threads
  • Toss everything until well-coated
  • Place into the oven for 30 minutes, checking to ensure the edges don’t become too burnt. Though brown edges are ideal
  • While the vegetables are roasting, boil the pasta water, salting it well so that it can flavor the pasta.
  • Drain and set aside
  • Once the vegetables are ready, pull from the oven and allow them to cool for a couple of minutes
  • Place the mix in a food processor or Vitamix, blend, then add salt and/or pepper to taste, if more is needed
  • Por over bowls of pasta and top with shaved Parmesan.


It’s a comfort food that feels healthy. You’re eating vegetables, but not for the sake of eating vegetables. It’s fresh, with a depth of flavor. And a steaming bowl on a cold winter’s day really hits the spot.


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