The sweetness of bell peppers is the flavor we're celebrating in this colorful dish. Stir strips of grilled chicken breast into the topping to make the meal more filling. Add a dash of red pepper flakes to make the flavor not only sweet but also zesty.
12 ounces mostaccioli (about 4 cups)
2 tbsp. olive oil, divided
1 red onion, cut into ¼-inch strips (about 1 cup)
1 red bell pepper, cut into 2-inch by ¼-inch strips
1 yellow bell pepper, cut into 2-inch by ¼-inch strips
1 green bell pepper, cut into 2-inch by ¼-inch strips
4 cloves garlic, minced
¼ c. toasted pine nuts
¼ tsp. freshly ground pepper, or to taste
Salt to taste
½ c. fresh basil chiffonade
Freshly ground pepper and freshly grated Parmesan or chévre cheese for garnish
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat; add salt, then the mostaccioli. When the water returns to a boil, stir occasionally to separate the mostaccioli. Reduce the heat to medium-high and cook for about 12 to 14 minutes, or according to package instructions, until the noodles are al dente.
Meanwhile, heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a large nonstick sauté pan over medium high heat. Add the onion; cook, stirring occasionally, until crisp-tender, about 3 minutes. Add the bell peppers and garlic; continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until the bell peppers are tender, about 8 minutes. Stir in the pine nuts, pepper, and salt. Taste and adjust the seasoning. Remove from the heat and cover to keep warm.
When the mostaccioli is done, drain well; return to the pot. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil and toss. Add the basil and toss again.
To serve, spoon the mostaccioli into pasta bowls; top with the bell pepper mixture.
Paulette Mitchell, a culinary instructor, television personality, spokesperson, freelance food writer, and the award-winning author of 13 cookbooks, is known internationally for her quick-to-prepare recipes with gourmet flair. Paulette's most recently published cookbook is "The Complete 15-Minute Gourmet: Creative Cuisine Made Fast and Fresh." She is also the author of "A Beautiful Bowl of Soup" and "The Spirited Vegetarian," which was voted "Best Book in the World on Cooking with Wine" at the 2005 Gourmand World Media Awards. Paulette says that international travel is her favorite source of culinary inspiration.