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Roasted Bell Pepper and Tomato Sauce

Mariel here. So far for Secret Recipe Club, I’ve had the distinct pleasure of meeting new bloggers, or should I say, new to me. But this week, I was assigned none other than Family Fresh Cooking, one of the very first food blogs I ever started browsing. Marla is a busy So-Cal transplant from Long Island and a mom of two so she focuses on fresh, healthy family favorites (hence the name) that fit into an over-packed schedule. I adore her style of cooking – what’s not to love about flavorful whole foods – so I had a real tough time deciding what to make. At first it was gonna be her Elk Chili with Sweet Potatoes, but there was no elk to be found at my little NYC grocery store. They often run out of chicken breasts, ricotta and skim milk, so no real surprise there. Then it was her Rustic Tomato Tart, Chicken with Coconut-Lime Peanut Sauce, and Pumpkin Peanut Butter Cookies.

However, I’ve had a severe case of carb face for the past two weeks and decided to indulge in yet another bowl of pasta instead, via her Quick Tomato Bell Pepper Sauce. I focused less on the “quick” angle of things and chose to take my time. I roasted the Bell peppers under the broiler – is there any other way to eat a pepper? – and let the onions caramelize a little longer. All in all, this sauce came together in about an hour, so it’s still relatively time- efficient and it saves beautifully, so you can eat it all week or parcel it out into freezable containers.

Marla uses smoked paprika, which I did too, and it adds a smoky, spicy depth to the sauce. In fact, I’d say this brew is somewhere between an Italian marinara and a Spanish romesco so it works beautifully in a variety of different dishes. If you don’t have smoked paprika, you can use regular paprika to save cash, just use half a teaspoon instead of a whole teaspoon (and sadly you’ll miss out on the smokiness). Enjoy!

Roasted Bell Pepper and Tomato Sauce
Makes about 1 quart + 1 pint
Serves 6-8
Adapted from Family Fresh Cooking

3 large orange, red or yellow Bell peppers, halved and seeded – $2.49
1 large onion, chopped – $1.29
8 cloves of fresh garlic, chopped – stock
1 Tablespoon Balsamic vinegar – stock
28-oz can of chopped tomatoes – $2.79
Olive oil – stock
A few dashes of cracked black pepper – stock
1 teaspoon smoked paprika – $4.59
A few pinches of salt – stock
Grand total assuming well-stocked kitchen: $11.16
Cost per serving: $1.39

1. Preheat the broiler. Place the peppers cut side down on tinfoil and brush the tops with olive oil. Broil for 6-7 minutes, until the tops are charred. Remove from heat and allow to cool before removing skin and roughly chopping.

2. In a large saute pan, heat about a tablespoon of olive oil over med-low heat. Add the garlic, onions and Balsamic. Cook stirring frequently until tender, about 12 minutes. Add the tomatoes and spices and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 30 minutes. Add roasted peppers then taste and adjust seasonings.

3. Let sauce cool and puree with an immersion blender or food processor.