girl's gotta eat: smoky red pepper pesto

Here's one of those dinners I made for a solo night at home.  Lest you think that I only bake, I really do cook. I cook from scratch almost every meal I eat at home.  More often than not I cook without a recipe using favorite preparations and my core ingredients and so the camera does not always come out and a post isn't written when dinner is just another version of what I like to eat.  I almost exclusively roast or grill vegetables with olive oil, kosher salt and freshly ground pepper and maybe garlic, thyme, rosemary or a splash of balsamic vinegar.  I can't quite break the habit of having a base on my plate and that's often polenta or some form of sweet potato but I do love a little pasta.  I eat meat pretty sparingly and generally it's from the foul family chicken or turkey but about every two weeks my body just tells me it needs iron and protein and a little steak pronto.  I need a salad every day and if I don't have one at lunch I have one at dinner even if it's just romaine lettuce with a little vinegar, oil and pepper but usually I make my own dressing with garlic, fresh herbs, white wine vinegar, olive oil, salt and pepper aka "the good salad".   Often dinner is a little meat on a salad or vegetables with polenta or pasta in a bowl.  There are endless variations, but you get the general idea.

I have so many recipes dog-eared, bookmarked and in my binder that I feel badly when I just "wing" it.  So this is how we get to tonight's post.  Whole Living magazine always gets me marking a page or two or six for something I'd love to try.  This recipe is from earlier this year and a feature on pestos beyond the traditional basil and pine nut classic.  I wanted to try this recipe for smoky red pepper pesto because I love romesco sauce and this just takes it in a little different direction with the heat from the chipotle pepper.  I grilled some chicken tenders and made a little batch of polenta and layered polenta, chicken and pesto for a nice little dinner for one.  This pesto would also be great with pasta, on a sandwich or panini, as a dip or as a base on a pizza or flatbread.  Unlike my romesco recipe, it just makes a little which is good for my world, but you could easily double it if you are feeding four or more.

Here's one of those rare cases where it's gone unrecorded, so please excuse the lack of pictures.  I'll make it again and add them at a later date.

Smoky Red Pepper Pesto

2 large red bell peppers, stemmed, seeded and cut in fourths (or jarred roasted red peppers
 in water, drained)
1 chipotle pepper in adobo, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
2 T almonds, toasted
1/2 tsp dried oregano
2 T olive oil
kosher salt
freshly ground pepper

If using fresh red peppers, char and blister the skins by either roasting them over your gas burner on your cooktop (mine has cast iron grates so this is pretty easy) or broil them on a baking sheet in your oven.  Place charred peppers in a paper bag and roll closed to steam the peppers.  After about 15 minutes, use a paper towel in your hand to slough off the charred skins.  It's completely fine if there is still some skin on the peppers.  And it's completely fine just to use the roasted peppers from a jar, I'm a big fan of the ones from Trader Joe's.

Process the peppers, chipotle pepper, garlic, almonds and oregano in a food processor or blender until pretty smooth.  Drizzle in the olive oil.  Taste for salt and pepper.


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