Since I’m all about learning new tricks and facing down fears in the kitchen, I taught myself how to roast bell peppers over an open flame this morning.  Up until now, I’ve been a purchased-jarred-peppers-kinda-girl when I’ve needed them for a recipe, mainly due to the fact that roasted capsicums resemble pepper-shaped lumps of Kingsford briquettes, and I guess I was intimidated by the idea of charring anything that badly in my own home.  Well, I’m here to tell you that it wasn’t at all difficult to do and although it makes a little bit of a mess, I had a great time and the results are delicious.  I watched this video and got perfect results.  Give it a try, don’t be afraid.  It’s fun!  : )

I had to walk away from the kitchen just now because I was eating pesto straight from the food processor bowl.  In addition to licking it straight off a spoon, you could (and should) also try it tossed with hot angel hair pasta.  Other awesome and delicious uses for this fantastic condiment would be to:

Blend it into a bit of mayonnaise and use it as a spread for a roast turkey or chicken breast sandwich.
Swap out traditional red sauce next time you make pizza at home and use this pesto instead.
Top grilled chicken breasts or seared fish with a generous dollop.
Use it as a bruschetta base by spreading toasted baguette slices with a smear of the pesto, followed by a thin slice of fresh mozzarella and a pretty basil leaf.

Voila!  I hope you like it too.  : )

NOTE:  This recipe includes instructions for roasting your peppers in the oven if you’d like to go that route.  Alternately, broil them or roast them over an open flame according to the instructions in the video link above.  Your results will be the same although the open flame route takes considerably less time.

YIELDS:  approximately 1 cup of pesto

2 large red bell peppers (about 1 pound) (Jumbo Sweet Red Peppers are on sale)
a little bit of olive oil

1 large or 2 small cloves of garlic, peeled and smashed
2 T. walnuts or pine nuts, toasted
2 T. good quality olive oil
generous 1/2 c. fresh basil leaves
generous 1/2 c. good quality Parmesan cheese, grated (Belgioioso Brand Parmesan Wedges are on sale if you’d like to grate it yourself)
1/4 t. crushed red pepper flakes (more or less to taste)
kosher salt

Hot cooked angel hair pasta (Buitoni and Barilla Brands are on sale) 

Preheat your oven to 400.  Place the red peppers on a baking sheet and rub them both with a little bit of olive oil (two teaspoons or so).  Place the pan in the hot oven and roast for 1 hour, using tongs to turn them over at the halfway mark.  Remove from the oven and allow them to cool to room temperature, about 15 minutes.  When the peppers are cool, use your hands to remove as much of the charred black skin as you can (leaving a little here and there won’t hurt).  Then use a sharp knife to remove the stem; slice the peppers open and remove the seeds and white membrane from inside.  Set aside.

In a food processor, add the garlic cloves and nuts; pulse until the mixture resembles a coarse meal.  Next, throw in the roasted peppers, 2 tablespoons of olive oil, fresh basil, Parmesan cheese, and crushed red pepper flakes and process until mixture is pretty smooth, about a minute.  Add salt to taste and add more crushed red pepper if you like.

Featured, Fresh, Frugal, Fabulous, News | June 11th, 2013