Traditional pesto is made from ingredients ground in a pestle and mortar – it’s where the name ‘pesto’ comes from. Many people refer to pesto to mean ‘pesto alla genovese’ which is basil leaves, olive oil, garlic and pine nuts crushed together. However pestos can be made from many things and red pepper makes a good base.
Home made pesto really is easy to make and is fresher and tastier than the pesto in a jar. Lower cost too!
There are a number of varieties of pesto sold in jars in the supermarket and a look along the shelves might give you some new ideas to try.
But you really can’t beat home made. It is easy to do and you control and use the ingredients you like. It is preferable to have a food processor to completely blend the ingredients.
Red Pepper Pesto
This red pepper pesto recipe is a good starting point. Use it as a framework but you can change the type of nuts and herbs to suit your taste and what you have in the cupboards.
Try adding a seasonal vegetable too such as broccoli, courgette. Cut up small and steam over the pasta. Olives always make a good addition to any pesto sauce.
Red Pepper Pesto
- 4 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 large onion peeled and chopped
- 2 garlic cloves peeled and chopped
- 1 large or 2 small red peppers, deseeded and chopped
- 20g almonds whole or chopped
- 2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
- 1 teaspoon chilli powder
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- 1 teaspoon dried basil or handful fresh basil leaves
- 400g / 14oz pasta (penne, fusilli, shells, spirali)
- 35g / 1oz parmesan cheese (or similar)
- Heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a large frying pan
- Add the onions and cook for 5 minutes until soft
- Add the garlic and red pepper and cook for about 15 minutes
- In a food processor, chop the almonds
- Add the vinegar, remaining olive oil, chilli, basil and paprika and blend
- While the pepper and onion are cooking, prepare the pasta
- Put the pasta in a large saucepan, cover with boiling water
- Simmer for 12-15 minutes or according to pack instructions
- If adding broccoli or courgette, steam this over the pasta
- When the pepper and onion are soft, place in the food processor
- Blend thoroughly
- Drain the pasta and stir the pesto sauce into the pasta over a low heat
- Stir in the broccoli or courgette and any olives
- Stir in parmesan cheese
Serve with a mixed green salad
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