Kitchen Vignettes - Roasted Red Pepper Pesto
See how red peppers transform with an irresistible aroma and sweet syrup when roasted and turned into a rich pesto that is delicious on pasta, bruschetta or polenta in this Kitchen Vignettes feature from PBS Food.
Roasted Red Pepper Pesto
(Recipe Courtesy: Aube Giroux of Kitchen Vignettes)
Infuse a roasted flavor into your pesto to top pasta or bruschetta.
Yield: 4 servings
- About 5 large sweet red peppers (about 1 1/2 pounds)
- 3 garlic cloves
- 1/4 cup walnuts, toasted
- 2 Tbsp sunflower seeds, toasted
- 1/2 cup freshly-grated parmesan
- 1/2 small bunch flat-leaf parsley (about 1/2 cup chopped)
- 1 tsp paprika
- 1/4 cayenne pepper or pepper flakes (optional)
- 2 tsp lemon juice
- 1/2 tsp sea salt (more if you wish)
- 1/2 to 3/4 cup olive oil (exact amount is a matter of personal preference)
Roast the peppers over any kind of flame (wood fire is best but a gas burner will do). Your flame shouldn’t be too harsh so that the pepper has time to cook and soften inside while its skin chars. Place the pepper directly on the flame and turn it often, using tongs. Once it’s all blackened, immediately place it a tightly lidded pot or in a paper bag. Let it cool for about 15 to 30 minutes. As it “sweats”, the skin will separate from the flesh and become very easy to peel off. Peel the skins, scrape off the seeds, and your peppers are ready. (If the skins were hard to remove and it gets very messy, you can rinse off the peppers flesh, but it’s better if you can avoid this because the juices have a lot of flavor.
An alternate way to roast the pepper is in the oven, on a baking sheet for about 15 minutes under the broiler (keeping an eye on them and turning over as needed) or for about 50 to 60 minutes at 450F.
Once your roasted peppers are skinned, and seeds removed, you can roughly chop them into pieces. Roughly chop the garlic and parsley as well. Now simply place all the ingredients in the food processor and pulse until you are satisfied with the texture. I like a coarse pesto but some people prefer a smooth and silky pesto, it’s up to you how much to blend it.
This pesto makes the perfect amount for 1 pound of pasta. Add it to the pasta once cooked and serve it with parsley and capers. You can also serve this pesto on bruschetta, on polenta, or even with an omelette. The possibilities are endless!