When we think of pesto the first thing that comes to mind is the Basil pesto. But pesto has now become a generic term for anything that is made by pounding ingredients in a mortar and pestle. So the original form – the basil one, is now called Pesto alla Genovese. (That will always remain my favourite, but I am not won’t of trying other versions to increase my repertoire of dishes.) The other popular one’s are the Red bell pepper pesto and the Sun dried tomato pesto. I always work with what I have in the fridge at any given point in time – and yes Bell peppers it was. Pestos as you know are super easy to make and keep well in the fridge under a layer of olive oil. So it’s always wise to make more than you need and pack away the rest in the fridge. When one dish has more than a couple of uses, it climbs the ladder of success pretty fast. (i.e. I make it more often and stash it in the fridge – Don’t you think that’s the epitome of success for an ingredient? :P) I use this one on baguette’s as a spread, as a dip for taco’s or toasted lavash and crudites and as an easy sauce for pasta. So keep this one handy – to impress your guests or to fill your belly on a hungry jam packed weeknight.
Roasted Red Bell Pepper Pesto
Prep time: 5 mins
Roasting time: 20-25 mins
Makes: 1 cup
What you need:
3 large Red Bell Peppers, seeded and cut into eights
3 Tbsp Olive Oil
3 large Garlic cloves
½ cup Cashews lightly toasted
1 Tbsp Balsamic Vinegar
¼ cup fresh Basil
Salt and freshly ground Black pepper to taste
What to do:
Preheat the oven to 190°C. Place the bell peppers on a lined baking tray and brush lightly with a little olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Roast in the preheated oven for 20-25 mins., turning once or twice till the skin is blackened. (I use the top rack). Remove from oven, place in a ziplock bag (or bowl and cover with plastic film). When the capsicum has cooled, peel off the skins. (The zip lock bag helps seal in the moisture and helps in removing the skins easily.)
Place the roasted cashews, peppers, remaining oil and the rest of the ingredients in a blender and blend to a paste. (I like it a bit chunky).
Store in the fridge, in an airtight container. (A layer of olive oil on top helps store it longer).
P.S. I topped my pasta with 2 Tbsps of the pesto and some grilled Red pepper slices. Yum.