Okay, enough is enough: I’ve been stalling on sharing this recipe with you, because I simply could not describe this roasted red pepper and hazelnut pesto in such a way as to do it justice. I mean, if I just told you, “It’s really good and you should try it,” would you be convinced? Probably not. (If, however, you are convinced by that alone, you are wonderful and I love you for trusting me so blindly!)
I made this pesto shortly before heading home to California for the holidays, and to be honest, I was kind of miffed about leaving before I got to enjoy the leftovers. Sure, I could claim that I was just trying to be a nice girlfriend by ensuring that the boyfriend had some fixings for a good meal in the fridge, but in reality, A) the boyfriend can (and does) cook just fine, and B) I’m not that selfless. Not when it comes to food, anyway. Whenever he says, “Go ahead, have the last/bigger/prettier piece of cake/pizza/etc.,” my response is, “Are you sur—OKAY, thanks!” Nom nom nom.
So anyway, as we sat and savored this red pepper and hazelnut pesto on my last evening in Michigan, instead of talking about the upcoming holidays or reflecting on the past year or even just simply enjoying each other’s company, I peppered the boyfriend with questions like, “How would you describe this pesto?” and “What adjectives come to mind?” He was not much help. So here’s what I’ve got:
- it has a mild, natural sweetness from both the roasted red peppers and the hazelnuts
- it feels robust and, in a way, honest: nothing too complicated, just high-quality ingredients
- it’s a fun alternative to traditional marinara sauce for pasta, yet it’s still classic enough to qualify as comfort food
If you make this (and you definitely should!), I’d love to hear about it! Especially if, you know, you have descriptive words in mind. In all seriousness, though, if you make this or any other recipe, please do report back: leave a comment on the blog, contact me through social media, send me an email…whatever is most convenient for you. It always makes my day to hear that someone tried and enjoyed one of my dishes—and even if something doesn’t quite tickle your fancy, I’m all ears for suggestions about how to improve it!
- 3 cloves garlic, unpeeled
- 1 shallot, chopped medium
- 1/4 cup + 1 teaspoon olive oil, divided
- 1/2 cup hazelnuts, roasted (+ extra for sprinkling on top)
- 2 red bell peppers, roasted and roughly chopped (or 1 12-ounce jar, rinsed and patted dry)
- 1/3 cup grated parmesan cheese (+ extra for sprinkling on top)
- salt and pepper
- 1 pound pasta
- Cook the pasta according to the directions on the package.
- In a small skillet, toast the garlic over medium heat until it becomes fragrant and develops small brown spots, about 7 minutes, shaking the skillet periodically. Transfer the garlic to a plate to cool for several minutes before peeling it.
- Optional (if you don’t like the taste of raw shallots, be sure to do this step!): while the garlic is cooling, heat 1 teaspoon olive oil in the skillet for 1-2 minutes. When it shimmers, sauté the chopped shallot until translucent, about 2-3 minutes.
- Place the roasted hazelnuts in a food processor and pulse until they resemble a paste. Add the peeled garlic, shallots, roasted red peppers, remaining 1/4 cup olive oil, and parmesan to the food processor and process until smooth. Add salt and pepper to taste.
- Stir the pesto into the drained pasta. Top individual portions with extra hazelnuts and parmesan.
- Place an oven rack 2 1/2 to 3 1/2 inches from the broiler element and heat the broiler for 5 minutes.
- Slice off the top and bottom 1/4 inch of each pepper. Remove the stems from the top pieces and discard them. Make a slit down one side of each pepper, then remove all the ribs and seeds. Press the pepper flat on a foil-lined baking sheet, skin-side up. Place the top and bottom pieces on the baking sheet as well, skin-side up.
- Broil until the skin is charred, about 9 minutes. Rotate the baking sheet after half of the time has passed.
- Transfer the peppers to a large bowl and cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap. Let sit for 10 minutes. Peel and discard the skins.
- The amounts listed will yield enough pesto to sauce 1 pound of pasta. I used pappardelle, but feel free to use any shape you wish.
- You can roast both the hazelnuts and the red peppers ahead of time. Store the roasted red peppers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.
- If you are roasting both the hazelnuts and red peppers at home, the time estimate is 1 hour, as listed. If you buy both from the store, the time estimate is 20 minutes.
I’m sharing this recipe at Fiesta Friday.
This pesto looks delicious! I have made a version of roasted red pepper sauce, but never with hazelnuts. I can imagine that is a great combination! I am always looking for alternatives to marinara sauce, so I will have to try this!
Thanks! I hope you enjoy this as much as we do!
chef mimi says
Why haven’t I made this?!! I thought I’ve made just about every combination possible of pestos, but this one escaped me!!!! I want to go make it now!!! Can’t wait to taste it.
I had a recipe for roasted red pepper pesto and was looking through the Flavor Bible for what else might pair well with it. It listed hazelnuts, and I had some in the pantry, so I went with it! Let me know what you think if you try it!
chef mimi says
I could probably eat poop with hazelnuts!!! My favorite nut!
Haha wow, you must really love hazelnuts!
HomeSweetJones (@HomeSweetJones) says
You had me at “It’s really good and you should try it.” Nah… you had me at Roasted Red Pepper and Hazelnut. I CANNOT WAIT for this to be in my mouth!
Food blogging would be so much easier if that really worked, wouldn’t it?! I hope you enjoy this as much as we do!
Natasha @ Salt and Lavender says
I’m convinced lol. Looks delicious!
I’m so glad to hear it! Thank you!
Patty K says
Ha! I’m the same way with my husband when it comes to the last bites! And, I totally understand when it comes to coming up with descriptive words for recipes. The photos to this one sells the recipe! No descriptors needed!!!
That’s so sweet of you – I suppose that’s why they say a photo is worth a thousand words, right? Thanks!
Patty K says
Dragons And Fairy Dust says
Love the sound of this, red pepper with hazelnuts is not something I would have thought of but bet it was delicious.
To be honest, I thought the pairing sounded kind of odd at first, but then it turned out really well! I’m glad this caught your eye!
This sounds so awesome – I’m always looking for alternative pesto recipes, especially those that can be made year-round – can’t wait to get a jar of this tasty goodness in my fridge. Thanks for the inspiration, as always!
That is a great point – I hadn’t thought about the fact that this pesto can easily be made year-round! Thanks so much for stopping by 🙂
What a fun and unique pesto idea! I can see why you’d be miffed about not having any leftovers. I would be, too! In fact, I might have just packed the leftovers up into my suitcase. Take that, airport security! 🙂
Why didn’t I think of that?! I could have at least carried on a 3 ounce jar of pesto…
Lauren @ Free Your Fork says
HA! Sounds like you feel the same way about sharing tasty leftovers with your fella as I do with mine. I may or may not be guilty of pushing the containers far into the BACK of the fridge where his prying eyes can’t find them 🙂 I would have never thought of putting hazelnuts in a pesto before, but it sounds like it would make just the perfect texture! Such a smart pairing, can’t wait to make a big batch sometime!
Ooh…your leftover-hiding game is devious. I like it! I hope you get a chance to try this pesto sometime 🙂
Elaine @ foodbod says
Wow! That pesto sounds delectable!! Definitely one to try 🙂
Thank you for sharing this with everyone at Fiesta Friday!
Thanks, Elaine! My pleasure, and thank you for being a host this week!
Elaine @ foodbod says
Thank you so much, have a great weekend 🙂
Julie is Hostess At Heart says
What a beautiful dish! I don’t think my description of this beautifully flavorful creamy dish would do it justice either! Welcome to FF! California to Michigan? No weather shock there right?
Thank you, and thanks for being a host this week! Coming back to Michigan after visiting California wasn’t too bad this year, since there wasn’t any snow on the ground yet. When I came back two years ago, though, it was snowy, the wind was whipping around like you wouldn’t believe, and it was -40F!
Julie is Hostess At Heart says
-40? We should be hibernating!
Arl's World says
This looks like a wonderful recipe! I love Pesto. Happy FF and weekend!
I’m glad this caught your eye! I hope you have a great weekend too!
WOW I am in awe. Perfect midweek fare. Do you think if I used jarred roasted peppers, that would significantly impair the taste? I’m just thinking of my pathetic oven-grill! Thanks for sharing.
Thanks, Mandi! America’s Test Kitchen says that they prefer the flavor of freshly-roasted red peppers but that you can substitute jarred ones if you rinse them. I doubt the flavor is all that different – I’m planning on trying it myself soon, since, to be honest, I’ve always been afraid of the broilers in the wonky, outdated ovens my apartments always seem to have. Let me know what you think if you try it!
High quality ingredients says it all flavour and nutrition-wise. I’ll certainly give this one a try.
I agree! I hope you enjoy this pesto as much as we do.
This sounds and looks awesome! 😀
I’m glad you think so! Thanks for stopping by.
Loved the recipe and the post! You are so right when it comes to really wanting to describe something that will make everyone run out and get hazelnuts. But I promise that I will because I do trust you!
Thanks, Susan! Yes, sometimes the words are flowing and then sometimes…nada. I’m so glad to hear that you trust my judgment!
By only looking at your photos, I know this is so good! But you are right, sometimes we don’t know how to describe our food so people would be convinced enough. If only we could send virtually so we could have some free taste, yeah? 😀 Happy FF102! x
That is so sweet of you – thank you! And yes, if only there were a “food sample download” option!
I am a big pesto fan and have printed out your recipe. I make a sun-dried tomato and regular basil pesto but this sounds very good using roasted peppers. I’m sure the hazelnuts add some great flavor 🙂
Sun-dried tomato pesto sounds delicious – I’ll have to try that sometime! I’m glad to hear this caught your eye. Enjoy 🙂
Natalie Browne says
Ohhhh, I love this idea. I can see why you’d be upset about the leftovers 🙂
Thanks, Natalie! At least the leftovers went to good use, rather than going to waste!
Hey, I was sold on just the name and being told it’s really good 🙂 I actually keep meaning to make a pesto along these lines so it’s nice to see that you have so I can try it out – it sounds great!
I’m so glad to hear that! I hope you get a chance to try a red pepper pesto soon, whether it’s this one or the one you had in mind!
You had me at “roasted red pepper” and “hazelnuts”. What a delicious and lovely change from the standard green pesto and congrats on being featured on Fiesta Friday:)
Thanks, Lily! Yes, it has a much mellower flavor than traditional pesto, which I know some people find overpowering. Thanks for stopping by!
Beautifully done :).
Laura @ Laura's Culinary Adventures says
Your boyfriends pretty good at describing food 🙂 Looks delicious!
I’m glad this caught your eye! Well, he may not be the best at coming up with descriptions, but he IS always an appreciative audience to cook for!