From sumptuous caponatas to light salads with pearls of fregola, the bell pepper is a staple of Italian cuisine, and is especially favoured on the stunning island of Sardinia. During the sun-kissed summer months, the bell pepper comes into its own - its flesh sweetened by the sun, whose scorching heat is tempered by the coastal breeze. A popular bite enjoyed during this time is peperonata, a dish typically served on bread or with roasted meats, which sees fresh bell peppers slowly stewed in olive oil and tomato, until sweet and fragrant. Taking inspiration from this southern Italian favourite, we’ve incorporated soft and slightly charred roasted red peppers into our classic pesto recipe.
Here, we blend smokey roasted red peppers with creamy pine nuts, parmesan and olive oil, as well as fragrant basil and garlic, resulting in an indulgent and flavoursome pesto. We recommend serving this pesto with trofie or orecchiette - or if you’re in the mood for something indulgent, strands of fresh egg tagliatelle - buon appetito.
Our red pepper pesto recipe
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cooking Time: 10 minutes
Calories per serving: 245 kcal per serving (excludes pasta)
- 2 red peppers, cored and halved
- 1 cup basil, cleaned and chopped
- ½ cup pine nuts
- ⅓ cup grated parmesan cheese
- 1 small clove garlic, minced
- 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- Salt, to taste
- Pestle and mortar
Chef’s tip: If you don’t have a pestle and mortar at home, you can use a food processor. We like a pesto that has a slightly rustic texture so be sure not to over grind.
- Lightly rub the red pepper halves with oil, and place on a baking tray, cut side down. Roast in an oven preheated to 200 degrees Celsius, for around 15-20 minutes. The peppers will be ready when they have lost their shape, and their skin is slightly blackened.
- Allow the peppers to cool, before peeling the skin from the flesh. Once peeled, set to one side.
- Add the pine nuts and garlic to a pestle and mortar, and begin to crush the contents, before grinding in a circular motion, to form a rugged paste. You may need to do this in more than one batch. Remove the contents from the mortar, and set to one side.
- Put the basil and salt in the mortar and grind until creamy. Gradually add the red pepper, and continue to grind in a circular motion, until fully incorporated.
- Add the grated Parmigiano Reggiano and pine nut mixture, and grind until well-incorporated.
- Slowly drizzle the olive oil into the mixture, and continue mixing until a rugged yet creamy paste is formed. We recommend leaving it a little rustic as this will help it adhere to the pasta. Taste and adjust for seasoning.
- The pesto is best eaten straight away, but can be kept in clean mason jars and stored in the refrigerator for up to a week.
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