Wednesday, 10 April 2013

Red Pepper and Walnut Pesto

Rachel, Dublin

Homemade pesto is really quick and easy to make and I think it almost always tastes miles better than pre-made varieties. Despite the seemingly pricey ingredients, this pesto is deceptively frugal. Particularly if, like me, you make it by using up the last of a small bag of walnuts, the end of a piece of cheese and roasted red peppers from your local german discount supermarket! 

I find Aldi and Lidl great for antipasti type items that are very pricey elsewhere. Cheese, Parma ham, artichoke hearts and olives are all items I stock up on regularly. One of my favourites is Lidl's 'Freshona' roasted red peppers for under €3. The huge jar will make double the quantity of the recipe below though I also like to use them sliced up in salads, sandwiches or as pizza and tart toppings.  They come in a vinegar that it is quite sweet so it is important to rinse them well. You also may need a little more salt and lemon juice than you expect in order to balance the flavours.  

red pepper and walnut pesto (enough for four portions)

200g of roasted red peppers from a jar, drained and rinsed
45g of walnuts
15-20g basil (I used 17g, what was left on my potted basil plant)
3tbsp extra virgin olive oil
45g parmesan cheese, finely grated
a squeeze of lemon juice
salt and pepper

Preheat your oven to 160°c (fan) and roast the walnuts for approximately 8 minutes.  Turn them half way through the time and keep a close eye on them as they can burn very quickly. Chop the peppers into pieces and put them in the bowl of a mini chopper or food processor.  Once roasted and cooled a little add the walnuts to the bowl with 2 tbsp of the olive oil and process until very finely chopped, add the cheese and process briefly to combine. Add the basil leaves and the last tablespoon of oil and process just long enough to ensure the basil is finely chopped.  Season to taste with lemon and salt and pepper.  I served this with wholewheat farfalle, sliced courgette fried in olive oil with some minced garlic until soft and some freshly grated parmesan scattered on top.  Any leftover pesto can be frozen or stored in the fridge for a short while with a thin layer of oil over the top.

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