This red pepper pesto pasta has so much flavour and is so simple to make. Roasted red peppers are the perfect base for a smokey homemade pesto. Sweet roasted garlic and fresh thyme add a magic note that creates a delicious vegetarian dinner when mixed into your favourite pasta.
Red pepper pesto pasta
Hi! I am writing up this recipe huddled at my desk with a heater on full. Lots of you are in the middle of summer so basil pesto might be your go to but right now for me, this is a perfect alternative. Jarred roasted red peppers are such a good pantry staple to have up your sleeve, they have such an addictive smokey flavour. Try blending them into my easy roast tomato pasta sauce, delish!
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- Jarred roasted red peppers - I used 350g which is what was in a jar labelled 465g but I guess they include the liquid in the weight. You could roast your own but it's quite a business and this is a great shortcut.
- Garlic - I was going to just add in a few raw cloves but then I decided to roast a whole bulb. It takes time but it's so easy and hands off. Feel free to use 4 - 5 raw cloves if you are stretched for time. I would probably roast two bulbs to add in next time as I love it so much. If you decide to do two, let me know how it goes!
- Pine nuts - I took an extra step to toast them first. If I can add some flavour at any stage, I'm taking the extra time.
- Thyme - Please use fresh if you can, it makes all the difference.
- Olive oil - Use the best quality extra virgin olive oil you can but anything you like the taste of is key.
- Parmesan - again, good quality always makes a big flavour difference. In saying that, there's lots of flavour going on with the peppers so don't stress too much.
How to roast whole garlic bulbs
Roasting whole garlic bulbs is not only super easy, it's crazy delicious. It caramelises and turns the garlic into a sweet creamy ingredient you can add to anything! It is really simple, here is the process.
- Preheat your oven to 200c (390f)
- Peel the outer papery layers off the bulb (I actually forgot to do that here!) It just makes squeezing the garlic out at the end much easier.
- Slice the top off, just enough to expose the tops of the cloves.
- Drizzle with olive oil and wrap up in aluminium foil.
- Roast in the oven on a tray for 40 - 50 mins. You want the top to look brown and caramelised.
- Once it's cooked, let it cool enough to touch.
- Squeeze all of that delicious garlicy goodness out.
- As mentioned above, you could do two bulbs if you are a garlic lover.
What pasta shape is best?
I used casarecce in this recipe, which is one of my favourite dried shapes, it would also be delicious with spaghetti or linguine. But, you know me, I don't like any kind of pasta rules so please use whatever you like!
If you feel like making some pasta from scratch, make sure you use my easy homemade pasta dough recipe. It's fool proof! You could cut it into some simple homemade pappardelle, which would be great for this pesto. I also love hand rolled shapes made from a semolina pasta dough and my homemade orecchiette or hand rolled gnocchi sardi would be delish.
How to make red pepper pesto pasta
- Roast the garlic bulb.
- In a food processor combine the peppers, pine nuts, garlic and thyme until evenly mixed.
- With the processor running, drizzle the olive oil in.
- I like to hand mix the parmesan in at the end.
- Place the pesto in a big mixing bowl.
- Get your pasta cooking in a pot of well salted boiling water.
- When the pasta is cooked add it straight into the bowl of pesto and toss it really quickly to combine.
- Season to taste and serve in heated bowls with extra parmesan grated on top.
Tips to make this pesto
- Roast the garlic first and you could even do it the day before to save some time.
- You might be tempted to rinse the peppers but you don't need to.
- Once you have made the pesto, let it sit for a little while to let the flavours infuse, again you could do it the day before.
- Don't cook the pesto! As with most pestos it's best to just have it in a big mixing bowl and add the cooked straight pasta into that. The residual heat from the pasta is enough to heat it through.
- Heat your plates! This is such a simple trick but vital for pasta. Pasta can get cold really quickly so I always heat my plates. I usually stack up my bowls or plates in my oven on a low temp while I am cooking.
Why do I weigh my pasta?
I like accuracy OK?! It might seem an over the top step but isn't guessing how much pasta to boil kind of stressful? With weighing out your portions it means you'll get the perfect pasta to sauce ratio and that makes me happy always.
Why do I give weights for fresh and dry pasta? Simple! Dried pasta, being dry, will expand and take on water so you need less of it to start. Fresh pasta already has liquid in it, be it fresh eggs or water so you ned slightly more of it as it won't change much in weight like dried pasta will. Most people do 100g dried per person or 150g fresh per person. I sometimes do more like 110g dried per person, we all know I love big portions.
This pesto would be delicious on top of some roast potatoes or mixed into some stir fried vegetables. You could also use it as a topping for chicken or fish.
Pesto is generally a raw sauce. Basil pesto is the most common and traditional and the basil in it doesn't heat well. This is obviously a really different pesto to basil but I tested it heated in a pan and then just mixed through warm pasta and it came out much better not being heated.
Definitely! It reheats really well, you can always add a tablespoon of water with it when reheating if it seems too dry.
Yes absolutely! Making anything from scratch is always the best option but the jarred ones are a great time saver!
Want some other sauces to try?
If you love roasted garlic you HAVE to try my creamy roast garlic and lemon pasta sauce, it's pretty magic! My creamy tomato pasta is a classic you have to have in your repertoire. As I mentioned above, adding a jar of roasted peppers into my easy roast tomato pasta sauce would be a great move.
Made this pasta sauce and loved it?
I would love it so much if you could leave me a review below! Also, if you take a photo make sure you tag me on instagram so I can see it!Print