Red Pepper & Bacon Lovin’ Pasta

This is a pasta dish I came up with to celebrate the gorgeous red peppers that are so abundant and flavorful as summer edges into fall. This combination of flavors has some of the qualities of a classic tomato-based barbecue sauce, being a little sweet (red peppers), smoky (bacon), and piquant (jalapeño). That may sound odd for a pasta sauce, but it’s totally delicious: super likeable and sophisticated at the same time.

Of course, the big news the day I was finalizing this recipe with bacon and ham was that the World Health Organization classified processed meat as a group 1 carcinogen. If you feel worried, check out this article with an explanation of risk percentages. While I agree with eating meat in moderation, as a bacon lover, I’m going to continue taking my chances!

Serves 4

bacon red pepper pasta

An end of summer bouquet with the perfect end of summer pasta


  • 1 pound of pasta of your choice (we like Jovial’s gluten free penne)
  • 1 medium red onion, ~8 oz, quartered then sliced (1/4” thick slices)
  • 1 pound of mixed red peppers, thinly sliced (you can mix in yellow and orange too)
  • 2 medium sized tomatoes, ~12 oz, roughly chopped
  • 3-4 pieces of bacon, chopped
  • 2 oz rosé wine, white wine, or water for deglazing
  • 3 oz ham, thinly sliced and diced
  • 1 jalapeño, seeds and veins removed, halved then sliced
  • ~2 Tbs olive oil
  • ~4 Tbs butter
  • Between ⅛ and ¼ tsp of ground white pepper (you can sub black pepper, but I like the complex woodsy scent of white pepper in this recipe)

bacon red pepper sauce ingredients

sauce ingredients ready to go, clockwise from top: peppers, butter, ham, jalapeño, bacon, tomatoes, red onion, white pepper

For the sauce:

  • Heat a large, deep skillet over medium-high heat, then add 1 Tbs each of the olive oil and the butter.
  • Add the bacon and cook attentively for a few minutes, until the bacon is lightly browned and some of the fat has been rendered. Spoon the bacon pieces out of the fat and into a bowl and set aside. (This will keep your nice bacon nice.)
  • Crank the heat up to high and add the sliced red peppers to the pan. Cook until they start to get a little brown/black on the edges, and you smell a nice roasty pepper smell.
  • Next add the red onion, along with 1 Tbs of butter and 1 Tbs of olive oil and cook for 5 to 8 minutes, until the onions start looking a bit translucent.
  • Add a nice pinch of white pepper. You may also want a bit of salt, but that will depend on how salty your ham and bacon are, so use caution. Stir to combine.
  • Add the sliced jalapeño and cook for 1 to 2 minutes.
  • At this point, you might have some flavor and veggies sticking to the bottom of the pan, so splash in your rosé wine or water, and scrape the bottom of the pan while stirring.
  • Now add the tomatoes and cook for ~8 more minutes, until the tomato is breaking down some and starting to combine with the other ingredients. At this point, your sauce should be coming together nicely.
  • Add the ham and reserved bacon to the pan and cook for ~2 minutes.
  • Turn off the heat then add the remaining 2 Tbs of butter to finish the sauce.

The finished pasta, ready to serve.

The finished pasta, ready to serve.

For the pasta:

  • Cook pasta according to the package directions (in salted water).
  • Drain the pasta, reserving a few tablespoons of the pasta cooking water. Combine with the sauce and cook for one more minute to combine, adding the pasta water if it looks dry. You could also add a bit more butter.
  • Serve!
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