Skip to content
Open menu Close menu

Feed your appetite for cooking with Penguin’s expert authors

penguin logo

Melissa Hemsley’s Peperonata Pasta (Italian Pepper Sauce)

Melissa Hemsley's simple, vegetarian pasta boasts an Italian peperonata-style sauce made with sautéed red peppers and onions finished with a generous grating of Parmesan. The sauce is

From the book

Melissa Hemsley


This makes enough sauce to satisfy four people generously. Even if cooking for just you or for two, I’d recommend making the full amount of sauce – it can be spooned over toast, tossed through beans or enjoyed as a base for baked eggs, shakshuka-style, or it freezes well for when you need a late-night pasta fix.

Read more Read less


5 tbsp olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
2 red onions, finely sliced
4 red peppers, finely sliced
4 garlic cloves, finely sliced
Pinch of chilli flakes
1 x 400g tin of chopped tomatoes
2 tbsp capers
350g dried orzo
2–3 tbsp red wine vinegar, to taste
sea salt and black pepper
To serve:
1 large handful of fresh basil leaves
grated Parmesan


Heat the olive oil in a large pot and, once warm, add the onions, peppers and a pinch of salt and pepper, Cover and cook over a medium-low heat for 15 minutes, stirring every so often. Add the garlic and chilli flakes and fry for a minute or two until fragrant, then add the tinned tomatoes and capers. Bring to the boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook (uncovered), stirring occasionally, for 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to the boil and cook the orzo until al dente. Reserve a big mug of pasta water, then drain the orzo.

Taste the sauce for seasoning, adding the red wine vinegar to taste. Add the orzo, along with a splash of the reserved pasta water and toss. Serve straight away with the basil, grated Parmesan and an extra drizzle of olive oil.


Subscribe to The Happy Foodie email newsletter

Get our latest recipes, features, book news and ebook deals straight to your inbox every week