Quick & Easy... Three Pepper Penne Pasta

Today my friend, Marian, came over to hang out with me.  My husband came home early so the three of us enjoyed some red wine, while I was making pasta.  Yes, I can cook and drink simultaneously! :-)  

Lately I've been choosing to drink more red wine than any other alcohol beverage due to its benefits.  For one, red wine is a rich source of antioxidants. Also, it may help in preventing heart disease, of course, all red wine in moderation.  Don't get me wrong, I still love my margaritas and martinis, but as I'm getting older and wiser, I am trying to develop a taste for red wine.  If you find yourself in this situation, I suggest you start with a fruity brand that is less bodied, and slowly work your way up to the full bodied wines.  My brother who is an avid wine drinker would consider me "unsophisticated" when it comes to my wine choices, for I love sweet and fruity wines that are not aged.  In the past, I occasionally drank white wine and my favorite still continues to be the succulent, Pinot Grigio.  However, I slowly transitioned into red wine and randomly chose wines that were young, and thus fruitier.  At this point, I absolutely love the Pinot Noir, and I enjoy an occasional Cabernet Sauvignon.  Would my brother be proud?  Possibly!  :-)

Speaking of wine, you know what, I need a vacation bad!  I've already been to Napa Valley, but doesn't a trip across the Atlantic all the way to Bordeaux, France, sound lovely?  That would be a fun wine tasting experience.

Moving along, pastas are my specialty, and I suppose this is because I started making pasta at the young age of 16.  It was an Italian favorite in our home and there are so many ways of making this quick pasta dish.  Today I chose to make this dish with three types of bell peppers.  The basil adds some sweetness to this pasta, while a little crushed red pepper will add some spiciness to this dish.  Your feedback would be greatly appreciated.  Enjoy!  

NUTRITION: Bell Peppers are a great source of Vitamins A, B6, and C.  Cheese is an excellent source of Calcium and Protein.  Choose whole grain pasta which adds Fiber to this dish. 

  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil - 1 1/2 tbsp (saute)
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil - 1 tsp (for boiling water)
  • Crushed Red Pepper Flakes - 1/2 - 1 tsp (I used 1 tsp... slightly spicy)
  • Garlic - 3 cloves (chopped)
  • Onions - 2 medium (chopped)
  • Red Bell Pepper - 1 (chopped)
  • Green Bell Pepper - 1 (chopped)
  • Yellow/Orange Bell Pepper - 1 (chopped)
  • Black Pepper - 1/2 tsp (initially); 1/4 tsp (final stage)
  • Italian Seasoning - 2 tsp
  • salt to taste
  • Barilla Whole Grain Penne - 1 box (1 lb.)
  • Barilla Tomato & Basil Sauce (24 ounce jar) - you can also use Marinara or any other sauce
  • Starchy Pasta Water - 1/4 cup or less (see step #13)
  • Parmesan Cheese - 1/2 cup - 1 cup (depends on your taste)
  • Fresh Basil - 1 handful (chopped)

1. Set aside water to boil.

2. In the meantime, chop the garlic and onions.

3. Heat a wok/pan on medium heat, once hot, add extra virgin olive oil.  Add crushed red pepper flakes.  

4. Once they sizzle, add the garlic and onions.  Combine.  Saute for 5 minutes.

5. In the meantime chop all 3 bell peppers.

6. Add the bell peppers to the onions.  Season with salt, black pepper, and Italian seasoning.  Allow this to cook for 5-8 minutes, until the peppers soften.

7. This is what you should have.

8. Now add the Tomato & Basil sauce, or a Marinara would work well here, or whatever you prefer.  

TIP: I love Barilla because it doesn't contain High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS), it contains a few simple ingredients and less fat. 

9. Cover and simmer for 10 minutes.

10. Season the boiling water with salt and 1 tsp of Extra Virgin Olive Oil.

11. Add the pasta and cook until Al Dente. 

12. In the meantime, chop the basil and grate the Parmesan cheese.

13. Reserve some hot pasta water. Once the pasta is Al Dente, drain the pasta, DO NOT RINSE!

14. This is how the sauce should look.

15. Add the pasta to the sauce.  Combine.

16. Add a little starchy pasta water... perhaps a 1/4 cup or less.  Combine.  The starch from the pasta water will help thin out the sauce slightly.

17. Add the parmesan cheese and basil.  Turn off the stove.  Combine.

18. Check seasonings.  I added some salt and a 1/4 tsp black pepper.  

19. Serve and garnish with a little Parmesan cheese and basil.  YUMMY!


  1. How many servings do you think this makes?

  2. I tried this yesterday and it was delicious!! Really easy to make and better than pasta dishes that I've had in restaurants!

  3. @jade1977 - Hmmm... This makes 3 very comfortable servings because I can overeat and so can my husband, my friend had some too. However, this probably makes 4 normal servings.

  4. Okay I am totally making this! I am so hungry now LOL! Our favorite pasta is made from Kamut Wheat and I am absolutely going to bookmark this because my husband would go crazy for this with all the peppers!

  5. Thanks SmilingGreenMom... I'm glad your husband would enjoy this. I'm going to have a similar recipe this week or next with mushrooms! Let me know how this turns out. Thanks!

  6. great recipe! sri and i really enjoyed this. i omitted only pasta sauce since i didn't have any onhand. delicious!!

  7. @Vindya... I'm so happy you tried this and enjoyed it. Was it creamy without the sauce? Did you add cheese? Thanks!

  8. I made this today and it was delicious! It's so great that this recipe incorporates several types of peppers/veggies....much better than just having pasta and plain marinara sauce. Will definitely make this again in the future!

  9. Thanks Mari... I'm so glad this worked out for you. Adding veggies to your diet is always a plus than eating carbs and marinara sauce :-) I'll be making a Mushroom version of this pasta soon... do try it when time permits. :-)

  10. I made this again tonight! It was great and this has become one of my favorite dinners! I used really good marinara sauce (Rao's) which made it even better than when I made it last time!

  11. hey, so how much tomato and basil sauce to put? i have a 24 oz jar..

  12. @Neha you need to use the entire 24 ounce jar. sorry I didn't mention it.

  13. tried this for lunch today..came out very well..i didn't have any green pepper so i used yellow, orange and red peppers.. going to have guests for dinner soon, so plan to make this pasta..any suggestions for what else i can make with it? ..& once again thanks for the amazing recipes :)

  14. @Neha - good question. Here are few more combos:
    try bellpeppers with a pack of 8 oz. sliced mushrooms. http://www.honeywhatscooking.com/2010/09/saucy-mushroom-green-pepper-rotini.html

    or just use mushrooms. http://www.honeywhatscooking.com/2010/07/perfection-in-every-bite-mushroom-penne.html

    or try a simple penne arrabbiata - this will knock your socks off. :-)

    or you can try using spinach and broccoli with the pasta sauce.

  15. So whenever i want to eat something yummy at home..I know i just need to open your site. Although today I was about to go eat at this north Indian place but I fell sick so couldn't go. I wanted something good at home so here i ended up browsing through your amazing recipes..and i have to say I'm a sucker for Italian specially pastas and I found the perfect one. So mom and I, tried your 3 pepper penne pasta...it was delicious..i just loved it..and i had to tell you that i loved it
    thanks honey bua


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