So much to say, so little time to type it up. I’m in a deadline crunch for the next few days, but I have several posts in the works that I can’t wait to share! First up: Mark Bittman’s roasted red pepper pesto for The Food Matters Project. I had no doubt that I’d love it; I have already proclaimed my adoration for pesto on this blog before and red bell peppers just happen to be one of my very favorite vegetables.
I made my red pepper version extra bold and spicy, which is just the way I like it. Today I paired it with roasted cauliflower, which makes a great snack or appetizer, and I see a kale, white bean and red pepper pesto wrap in my future.
Basically, I roughly halved the recipe, and toasted the nuts and garlic (a little toasting always helps, in my opinion, and it’s proven true in my arugula pesto recipe and basil pesto recipe). I used roasted red peppers from a jar. Although I’m sure freshly roasted peppers would taste better, red bell peppers aren’t in season around here, which is a fact that makes me wanna boo-hoo-hoo most of the year. I also grabbed my
good incredible bottle of olive oil for this recipe, which Native Roots Market kindly provided for this recipe and more to come, along with the cumin seed. The oil is a Palestinian free trade, cold-pressed, organic Rumi tree olive oil by Canaan Fair Trade. If you can find some, get it!
After tasting the base mixture, I decided to thicken it up a bit and added about 1/2 a cup of Great Northern beans. I’ve gotten into the habit of cooking up big batches of beans and freezing them for later, so it was as simple as defrosting a couple of handfuls of beans and throwing them into the food processor. Lastly, I decided to give it some kick and added 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes… then another half teaspoon, because I like my food extra spicy.
Ultimately, here’s what I combined in my food processor: 2 garlic cloves, 1/2 cup toasted walnuts, about 4/5ths of a 16 ounce jar of roasted red peppers, 1/4 cup olive oil, 1/2 cup Great Northern beans, 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes (1/2 teaspoon may be plenty, so add to taste) and freshly ground sea salt and black pepper. Find the full roasted red pepper pesto recipe at girlichef!
Note: Since my other pestos freeze so nicely, I don’t see why this one wouldn’t do the same. Here’s my trick for freezing pesto in an ice cube tray!
I was intrigued by Melissa Clark’s recipe for roasted cauliflower with cumin seed when I came across it in her latest cookbook, Cook This Now. Cook This Now is filled with wonderfully simple gourmet recipes, and although most entrées are meat-based, almost all of her vegetarian options appealed to me. It took me a long time to learn to like cauliflower and I believe that roasting brings out its best qualities. It has so little on its own that it would play nicely with a host of spices. Do I believe that cumin is the end-all, be-all accompaniment? No, I don’t, but it is delicious.
Melissa suggests serving the roasted cauliflower with a blend of salted plain yogurt, fresh chopped mint leaves and pomegranate arils, but I decided to serve it with this red pepper pesto. Thanks to the red pepper flakes in my pesto, cumin-roasted cauliflower dunked into roasted red pepper pesto tastes almost harissa-like. It’s a great pairing if you like bold, spicy food.
- 1 large head cauliflower, cut into roughly bite-sized florets
- 1 to 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 teaspoon whole cumin seeds
- Salt, to taste
- Black pepper, to taste
- 2 garlic cloves
- 1/2 cup walnuts
- 4 roasted red bell peppers (I used jarred)
- 1/2 cup fresh basil (optional, I didn't use)
- 1/2 cup cooked Great Northern beans (optional, if you'd like a creamier, heartier texture)
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- Sea salt, to taste
- Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- To roast the cauliflower: Preheat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Toss cauliflower florets with olive oil and spices.
- Spread the mixture evenly in a single layer on a large baking sheet.
- Roast, flipping halfway, for about 25 to 30 minutes, until the edges of the cauliflower are toasty and starting to caramelize.
- To make the pesto: In a food processor, pulse the garlic until finely chopped. Add the walnuts to the food processor and pulse a few more times to break up any large pieces.
- Add the roasted red peppers, basil (if using), and beans (if using). Process, streaming in the oil as you go, until all the ingredients are well combined and as coarse or as smooth as you want them. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Store in a covered, airtight container in the fridge for a couple of days, or freeze.
Find variations on the red pepper pesto at Girlichef!