A long time ago, my mom gave me some really good advice about healthy eating. She said if you’re craving chocolate, don’t eat a chocolate chip cookie or a chocolate donut, eat some chocolate! What she meant was, don’t waste calories on the surrounding ingredients if you’re really only in it for the chocolate chips or the frosting.
I’ve tried to approach eating with that mindset ever since. If I’m craving gooey cheese (which, let’s face it, is basically all the time), I have it. But instead of bread or crackers, I pair it with cucumber rounds or slices of apple.
This past week, I was in the mood for pizza. But when I really thought about it, I wasn’t after the cheese, or the chewy, blistered crust (delicious as they are). No, what I wanted was the pepperoni.
And so I present you with this roasted red pepper pepperoni sauce. It’s basically like eating pizza in pasta form–or in this case, zucchini noodles. You see this sauce? There is a full cup of diced pepperoni blended right in, so every bite is full of salty, spicy, salumi flavor. ↓↓↓
Here is where I confess to being a Top Chef superfan. In season six, Mike Isabella made a pepperoni sauce that the judges went crazy over, and the idea has haunted me ever since. On the show, Mike paired his version with roast chicken. Since my sauce is pretty indulgent, I used zucchini noodles. Really though, it’s so insanely delicious you could put it on anything.
For the purpose of taking these photos, I crisped up some extra sliced pepperoni (just cook it in a skillet as your would bacon) and used it to garnish the sauce. It’s totally unnecessary, but a nice little finishing touch if you want to go for the pepperoni gold.
- 1 small onion, diced
- 1 cup diced pepperoni (about 3 ounces, or 1/2 stick)
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste (optional)
- 1 (24-ounce) jar roasted red peppers, drained and chopped
- 1 (14.5-ounce) can whole peeled tomatoes
- 2 tablespoons heavy cream
- Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion, pepperoni, garlic, oregano, and pepper flakes. Cook, stirring frequently, until the onion is translucent and the pepperoni is beginning to crisp around the edges, about 5 minutes. Stir in the tomato paste (if using).
- Add the roasted red peppers and tomatoes and their juices and bring to a boil. Remove from the heat and puree with an immersion blender (or blend in batches in a regular blender). Return to low heat and simmer until slightly thickened, about 10 minutes. Stir in the cream.
- You don't need to add oil to the skillet with the onion because the pepperoni will start to give off oil as it soon as it heats.