Sometimes the simplest recipes have the most impact. And sometimes the fresh vegetables and fruits in my garden inspire those recipes. I know, I know…more garden recipes! I just can’t help myself. I’ve even started freezing some of the herbs and vegetables because I know I just can’t use them all before the season is over. So with all of the jalapeños, peppers and tomatoes piling up on the kitchen counter, I decided (with the help of my good friend Rebecca from Iwantthatfordinner.com) that a creamy pesto was a great way for these ingredients to shine without much effort. I normally don’t mind using tons of pots, lots of ingredients and wacky flavors but in this case, I wanted to do something simple and affective that I’ve never tried before. I’ve made many pestos but I’ve never actually added vegetables, like peppers, to the mix. I love the added kick of heat from the jalapeños and the mild sweetness from the bell pepper. And the pine nuts and olive oil make this pesto as silky as a cream sauce. I served this mildly spicy pesto with al dente pasta (you can also use gluten free pasta or spaghetti squash), roasted tomatoes and fresh mozzarella but you can just use it as dip with carrots or rub it on steak or chicken and grill. So delicious however you serve it!
4 Jalapeño, seeded
1 green bell pepper
1 cup cilantro
1/2 cup pine nuts
1 garlic clove
1 Tbsp lemon juice
1 Tbsp lemon zest
1/4 cup olive oil
salt and pepper, to taste
3 beefsteak tomatoes (roasted with olive oil, salt and pepper)
1 box rotini, cooked
1/2 cup cubed fresh mozzarella
I preheated the oven to 400 degrees F and lined a baking sheet with parchment paper. I thinly sliced the tomatoes, placed them on the baking sheet, drizzled with olive oil and sprinkled with salt and pepper. I used a mixture of green and red tomatoes but you can use any tomatoes you have on hand. You can even just add fresh uncooked tomatoes to the pasta.
I roasted the tomatoes in the oven for 45 minutes, until crisping around the edges but still soft in the center.
While the tomatoes roasted, I brought a large pot of water to a boil and cooked the pasta until al dente, which means the pasta was firm but not too hard. I strained the pasta and set it aside. Then came the mildly spicy Jalapeño Pesto. In a food processor, I combined the jalapeños, bell pepper, cilantro, garlic, lemon juice and zest and pine nuts.
I blended the mixture until chopped finely then slowly streamed in the olive oil until the pesto was thick. I tasted the pesto and added some salt and pepper for added flavor. And that’s it! I love how this pesto looks like a cream sauce but there is absolutely no cream in the recipe.
I combined some of the pesto (you can use it all if you want), roasted tomatoes and warm pasta then added the fresh mozzarella to the bowl. Dinner was ready! I made so much that I had leftovers for lunch the next day. You can eat this pasta dish hot or cold. You can even melt the mozzarella if you want but I prefer the texture of the fresh pieces.