How to Make Roasted Red Pepper Pesto

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If you love roasted red peppers and adore regular basil pesto, the combination of the two is sure to be a hit. It's actually milder and holds less "kick" than basil pesto, as the mellow sweetness of roasted red pepper somewhat offsets the salt, garlic and sharp, snappy flavor of basil itself.

You can do so much with the resulting pesto:

  • Toss red pepper pesto with pasta, such as penne.
  • Top chicken, fish or pork with the pesto.
  • Spread it on a baguette to make crostini.
  • Place it in a small bowl with other condiments and cut vegetables.

Roasting the Red Peppers

Charring red peppers atop gas burners or under a broiler creates an unsurpassed flavor but may work your last nerve in terms of cleaning your cooking area, trimming the soft, squishy roasted peppers and trying to remove the sticky seeds.

For an easy alternative, oven roast the peppers instead.

Step 1: Heat the Oven

Heat your oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Cut three medium or two large peppers in half. With a small, sharp knife, trim the shoulder around the calyx, the green crown, and pull away the calyx and seed cluster. Trim the membranes and shake out any loose seeds.

Step 2: Roast the Peppers

Lay the pepper halves face down on a foil-lined baking tray. Place the tray in the oven for 12 minutes. Remove the tray with an oven mitt and flip the peppers over with tongs. Roast them for another 12 minutes.

Step 3: Turn the Peppers Over

Flip the peppers back to the face-down position and set the timer again to 12 minutes. Monitor the peppers for doneness, as evidenced by moderate charring. Remove them if necessary before the timer sounds.

Step 4: Allow the Peppers to Steam

Fold the foil over the roasted peppers so they can steam and allow the skins to slip off easily. Let the peppers cool to near room temperature, about 30 minutes, or refrigerate them overnight. When cool, pinch the skins at one edge of each half with your fingers and pull them off.

Mixing the Pesto

Step 1: Prepare the Spices and Nuts

Puree the garlic, nuts and salt until finely chopped. Note: You can also use pine nuts, almonds or walnuts instead of pecans. Although not as traditional, pecans stand up well to the red pepper flavor, which tends to swamp the mild pinenuts.

Tip

  • Now is a good time to heat water for pasta to boiling, as the pesto comes together quickly and can go on the completed noodles.

Step 2: Add the Ingredients

Add the basil leaves, red peppers and olive oil. Puree in several stages until blended, opening the processor lid and scraping the sides to incorporate partially pureed leaves.

Step 3: Mix the Pesto and Cheese

Scrape the pesto into a bowl and add the cheese, mixing it in thoroughly by hand to preserve its texture and appearance.

Tip

  • You can eat the roasted red pepper pesto immediately on a hot dish or cover the bowl with plastic wrap and store it in the refrigerator for five to seven days.

Things You'll Need

  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1/4 cup pecans
  • Sea salt
  • 1/2 cup basil leaves
  • 2 to 3 roasted red peppers
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese

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