Bell peppers and blenders and barely cooking


Emily Wight of well fed, flat broke returns to Market News this month with another budget-inspired post from our Sunday Mount Pleasant Market. Read on to find out how she turns $25 into muffins, cake, homemade Ribena, shakshuka, and whole wheat spaghetti with romesco sauce and walnuts!

Bell Pepper and blenders and barely cooking

By: Emily Wight

We’re starting to get to that part of the season where it’s hard to turn anything down – the greens are so crisp! There are finally tomatoes! Oh my god, are those peaches?! It’s my favourite time of year to hit the Vancouver Farmers Markets, because everything is at its peak and bargain buys are everywhere. This week, I’m throwing summer squash and bell peppers (fill a bag at the Taves Apple Barn stall for $6!) into shakshuka, grating zucchini into muffins and chocolate cake, turning black currants into jars of homemade Ribena, and slathering buttermilk biscuits in gooseberry jam.

IMG_5769You don’t even really have to cook. Empty a can of black beans and dice some fresh tomatoes and spring onions into a bowl, toss with olive oil, some lime juice, a little cumin and smoked paprika, and a few flakes of salt and you’ve got a salad you can pour into containers and eat for lunch all week. Endless fruit makes endless smoothies for fresh breakfasts every morning. And some diced fresh tomatoes and minced garlic left out all day in a glass bowl in the sun makes the simplest sauce for pasta.
This week I spent about $25, including a bit of jam from Jordan’s Jam. I bought zucchini and summer squash, bell peppers, a small handful of little heirloom tomatoes, watercress, fresh basil, and a few peaches, which I meant to make into something but then just ate over the sink like a fiend. Today’s recipe is the laziest thing I could think of when it was zucchiniTuesday and life seemed impossible; it’s barely cooked, if you don’t count roasting the peppers or boiling a pot of water for spaghetti. You can roast the peppers ahead of time, if you’ve got the oven on for something else, and then this whole dinner comes together in about 20 minutes.

Whole wheat spaghetti with romesco sauce and walnuts

  • 1 lb. / 454g red bell peppers (about 3)
  • ¼ cup / 60 mL plus one teaspoon olive oil
  • 1 cup / 250 mL walnuts, divided
  • ½ lb. / 227g tomatoes, diced
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • ¼ cup 60 mL fresh basil leaves, packed
  • 2 tbsp. red wine vinegar
  • 2 tsp. smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1 tsp. ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • ½ tsp. chili flakes
  • 13 oz. / 375g whole wheat spaghetti
  • 2 oz. / 50g feta cheese, crumbled

Preheat your oven to 350F. Coat whole bell peppers in about one teaspoon of olive oil, and place on a sheet pan. Cook, turning once, until roasted and withered, about 40 minutes. Remove these to a glass bowl, cover with plastic, and let rest 10 minutes.

Remove the peels from the peppers, then halve each one and scrape away the seeds. Discard seeds, peels, and trimmings.

Place walnuts in an oven-proof baking dish and toast for 5 minutes. Turn off the oven and set the walnuts aside.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook spaghetti according to package instructions.

Combine remaining olive oil, roasted peppers, two thirds of the walnuts, tomatoes, garlic, basil, red wine vinegar, paprika, cumin, pepper, salt, and chili flakes a blender or food processor, and blend until smooth. Taste, adjusting seasonings to taste.

Drain cooked pasta, reserving half a cup of cooking water. Return the pot to the stove and pour in blender mixture, then add pasta and toss to coat.

Remove the pasta to a large bowl, and crumble remaining walnuts and feta cheese over top.