For the meal after Rebecca’s adoption hearing (see last week’s blog post for more on that) I needed to come up with one more dip, and we decided to do something simple with red peppers. Along the way, we stumbled upon an extremely simple recipe that serves essentially the same function as pesto but without the need for seasonal herbs OR cheese. Grated parmesan would be fine on top, but Kate deemed it unnecessary (and she loves cheese, so that’s saying something), as the roasted peppers add a distinctly creamy quality to the dip/sauce. Though it’s vegan, this recipe actually resembles my brother’s roasted pepper sauce, which seems kind of hard to explain since the latter involves copious amounts of butter and heavy cream.
This recipe makes enough to coat about a pound of pasta or for a bit over a cup of dip. It is obscenely easy and fast, but you could make it more gourmet (and time consuming) by a) roasting your own peppers (probably tastier and possibly cheaper but much more time-consuming) and/or b) adding chopped fresh herbs along with the peppers (though if they’re available and you’re going to go through that trouble, you might as well make more legit pesto in the first place). Note that all the amounts are approximate – this appears to be a pretty flexible technique.
– 1 cup walnuts
– 3 medium cloves garlic, peeled
– 3 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
– 1 12-ounce jar roasted red peppers
– 1 tsp salt
– 1 tsp dried basil (and/or other “Italian” herbs)
1) toast the nuts for about 5 minutes over low heat (put in a skillet and shake every minute or so in order to heat all surfaces evenly) while peeling garlic and draining the fluid from the jar of peppers.
2) put the toasted nuts, garlic and oil in a food processor and blend until a chunky paste is created (maybe 30-45 seconds).
3) add the remaining ingredients and process for another 30-60 seconds until evenly blended.
4) coat hot pasta and/or store in fridge in a sealed container for up to a few days.