Roasted Red Bell Pepper Pesto

Dinner, Pasta

Pasta: A Love Story.

Week nights are weird. Most of the time you’re tired and kind of want to just eat something, chill out, sit on the couch and watch a few things before you have to do it all over again the next day. I know what this feels like. And most nights cooking something even slightly labor-intensive is really daunting, but take-out also seems like a lot of work because you have to talk to someone…on the phone. And forget about driving somewhere, you JUST got home. UGH. And OMG the feeling of hungry has now turned into HANGRY (hungry + angry), and you just wanna eat something. right. this. second. When this is the case, I turn to pasta–it’s my go-to. Always and forever.

Over the years I’ve become a private master of the “15-minute pasta dish for one person.” Lemon pasta. Vegetable scrap pasta. Spaghetti with eggs and lots of black pepper. Carbonara. Butter and crushed red pepper (not all that exciting). Butter and cheese pasta (also not that exciting, but very dependable), and the list goes on and on…

If you do a small amount of planning and remember to a buy a few red peppers over the weekend, this is a new little 15-minute pasta that could enter your rotation. It’s a solid one.


Okay so I know I just sold you on “EASY,” “FAST,” and “15 Minutes Only.” But you do need to roast some red peppers.

The other alternative is that Trader Joe’s (and a lot of other supermarkets) actually carry roasted red bell peppers in the jar. Buying this will save this roasting step for you completely.

If you decide to roast them, it’s really no work at all, just a bit of oven time. An hour to be exact.

This pesto has a handful of fresh basil, a good amount of Parmesan cheese, garlic, olive oil and walnuts, though, pine nuts or almonds would be lovely too.

Things are pulsed and pureed for about a minute. This pesto is sweet and slightly smokey. The walnuts give it a good nuttiness, while the basil add freshness.

Freshness is very important when shoveling big bites of carbs into your mouth, you kno.

Toss this pasta with some warm pasta, swirl it around your fork and turn on some bad television.

You’ve earned it.

Roasted Red Pepper Pesto

Print this recipe!

2 large red bell peppers (or 1 pound of red bell peppers)
Olive Oil
2 whole garlic cloves
2 tablespoon walnuts
1/2 cup fresh basil
1/4 cup Parmesan-Reggiano, grated
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
Sea salt

1. Preheat your oven to 400F. Place the red peppers on a baking sheet and sprinkle both of them with 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Transfer the peppers to a hot oven and roast for 1 hour, turning them over, using tongs, at the 30 minute mark. Remove from the oven and allow them to cool to room temperature, about 15 minutes. When the peppers are cool, using a knife, remove the seeds, white membrane inside and stem. Set aside.

2. In a food processor, add the garlic cloves and walnuts; pulse until the mixture resembles a coarse meal. Next, throw in the roasted red peppers, 2 tablespoons of olive oil, fresh basil, Parmesan-Reggiano, crushed red pepper and pulse until mixture is smooth-ish, about 1 minute. Salt to taste (I added about 1/2 teaspoon of salt). Add a little more crushed red pepper, if you like, too.

Yields about 1 cup of pesto

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58 Comments

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  • Reply Prachee December 31, 2013 at 12:13 am

    Thats brilliant, i m surely going to try this….

  • Reply Adrianne September 25, 2013 at 7:26 pm

    Made this tonight and love it! I also really like roasting the peppers in the oven versus what I had been doing, which was roasting them on the stove top. This is much better. And the pesto came out so sweet and flavorful. I had sweet peppers in my CSA box, so that may have made it sweeter than bell peppers. This is something I’ll be returning to and freezing for future use frequently. Thanks, Adrianna.
    -Adrianne

  • Reply wolfhands September 24, 2013 at 9:51 am

    I made a varietion with a yellow and orange peppers, and left out the walnuts because my boyfriends allergic.
    So good! I used it as the sauce for a puff pastry pizza with roasted tomatoes and fresh basil and mozzarella. Now I’m going to eat it on toast for lunch! 🙂

  • Reply Annie July 14, 2013 at 1:46 pm

    Love fast pastas on hot summer nights when you don’t want to spend time cooking and definitely don’t want to turn on the oven. You can roast peppers on the grill too. Just rub some olive oil (or spray with cooking spray) on the peppers, grill until they have a nice char on them, take them off the grill and wrap them in a clean kitchen towel until they are cool enough to handle. Then you can peel the skin off.

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  • Reply Heidi October 12, 2012 at 10:47 am

    Red peppers were on sale so I’m roasting a dozen of them today and found this site looking for new recipes to use them in. My extra-easy way to roast red peppers in an electric oven is:

    1. Preheat the broiler on high with a rack about 3 inches from the element
    2. Wash, halve them, remove the membrane & seeds, and then flatten them with the palm of your hand on a foil-lined sheet pan
    3. Roast them on the top rack under a hot broiler with the oven door ajar so the broiler doesn’t cycle off. Start checking at 10 minutes. When the skins are all black or almost all black remove them from the oven.
    4. Gather up the peppers into the foil to steam them and allow to cool.
    5. When cool, slough off the skin and discard.
    6. Store the peppers in their own juice in the refrigerator for up to 5 days; freeze them for longer periods; or make sauces, pesto, etc., which may also be frozen.

    Right now, I’ve got an “assembly line” going of peppers being roasted one sheet pan at a time since that’s all that will fit on the top shelf of my oven. A little later this afternoon, I’ll slough off the skins. Then I’ll have lots of roasted red peppers to hold us through the lean winter when they skyrocket in price at the grocery store. Enjoy!

  • Reply Tina September 29, 2012 at 7:25 pm

    Just made this with my sis-in-law and 6 yr old nephew. Hubby says its way better than any pesto he’s ever had! Delicious and easy!

    • Reply Adrianna September 29, 2012 at 11:56 pm

      YES! I love this.

  • Reply Yelle September 28, 2012 at 9:56 pm

    Oh my! I just stumbled upon this blog and may have found my new source for recipes! This looks absolutely delicious, I’m not sure if I can wait too long to make this. Definitely bookmarking // thanks!

  • Reply Chris September 26, 2012 at 2:04 pm

    When I made this I found that two cloves of garlic was way too much for 1 cup of pesto. If you don’t want the garlic to overwhelm, I suggest one clove.

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