Penne with Red Pepper Sauce and Broccoli

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Penne with Red Pepper Sauce and Broccoli
Serves 4
Great either hot OR cold, this colorful pasta dish is a wonderful combination of vegetables, nuts and the herbaceousness of fresh basil which adds a interesting contrast. Just about ANY pasta works well but Penne is probably my favorite.
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Ingredients
  1. 6 Tbsp. Olive Oil
  2. 1 1⁄2 Cups Onions, chopped
  3. 4 Cups Broccoli Florets
  4. 2 each Red Bell Peppers, seeded and chopped
  5. 1 Lb. Dried Penne Pasta
  6. 1 1⁄2 Cup Whole Almonds
  7. 1⁄3 Cup Parmesan Cheese, grated
  8. 2 Tsp. Balsamic Vinegar
  9. 1 1⁄2 Cup Basil Leaves, cut into thin strips
  10. 1 1⁄2 Tsp. Salt, or a bit more, to taste
  11. 2 each Large Garlic Cloves, minced
  12. 2 pinches Cayenne Pepper
  13. - Fresh Ground Black Pepper, to taste
Instructions
  1. Heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil over medium heat in a large skillet.
  2. Add the onions, and saute them for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until they soften.
  3. Lower the heat a bit, and add the garlic and red pepper.
  4. Continue to cook the vegetables, stirring often, for 15 minutes.
  5. In a food processor or blender, chop the almonds fine.
  6. Add the pepper-onion mixture, the vinegar and the remaining olive oil, and blend all to a puree.
  7. Add the salt, black pepper, and cayenne and blend briefly to incorporate them.
  8. Arrange a vegetable steamer over water in a saucepan. Bring the water to a boil, and add the broccoli.
  9. Cover the pan, and cook the broccoli over medium heat for 5 minutes or a bit longer, until it is as tender as you like. Keep it warm.
  10. Cook the pasta in a large pot of salted boiling water until it is just tender.
  11. Drain the pasta, retaining 1/2 cup water to keep pasta moist, and return it to the pot.
  12. Add the red pepper sauce, the Parmesan cheese, the broccoli, and the basil. Heat the contents over medium heat until the pasta is very hot, and add more salt and pepper to taste, if necessary.
  13. Serve the pasta immediately.
Nino Salvaggio http://www.ninosalvaggio.com/