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The Food Matters Project: Roasted Pepper-Almond Pesto

Here's the third installment of the Food Matters Project, the brainchild of Sarah of 20somethingcupcakes and Kate from Cookie + Kate. When I read the mission - cooking through The Food Matters Cookbook by Mark Bittman who espouses eating more plants, fewer animal products and processed foods, and the positive impact of those choices on us and our planet - I was in.

Each week we will all - here's the 'we' and we've grown to just over two dozen fellow foodie bloggers - cook the same recipe, posting our interpretations and adaptations.

This week Heather, of and a personal favorite of mine, assigned us Mark's Roasted Red Pepper and Walnut Pesto. [Recipe is below.*] Click here for our hostess's post. Or click here, and look in the comments, to see what the others whipped up.

I substituted ingredients to match what we had on-hand and to accommodate personal preferences - my family isn't big on walnuts. Then I used the pesto as a sugo crudo (chunky sauce) on top of polenta. Delicious!

2 roasted red bell peppers
2 T minced garlic
1/2 C fresh basil leaves
1/4 C olive oil
1/4 C ground almonds
freshly ground pink Himalaya salt and flower pepper
Since I don't have a food processor and I didn't feel like assembling my blender, I opted to hand chop everything. I minced the first three ingredients, then blended in the olive oil and ground almonds till I had the texture I wanted. Then I seasoned with salt and pepper and let the flavors develop while I made the polenta.

When the polenta was cooked and creamy, I spooned the polenta into serving bowls, topped it with the pesto, and sprinkled it with an organic Bulgarian goat milk feta that I found at the market.

*The Original Recipe: Roasted Red Pepper and Walnut Pesto
Makes: 4 - 8 servings, Time: About 5 minutes with roasted peppers

2 garlic cloves
1 C walnuts
8 roasted red bell peppers
1 C fresh basil, optional
1/2 C olive oil
salt and black pepper
1. Pulse the garlic in a food processor until finely chopped. Add the walnuts and pulse 2 to 3 more times to break up any large pieces.
2. Add the roasted red peppers and basil and process, streaming in the oil as you go, until all the ingredients are well combined and as coarse or smooth as you want. Sprinkle with salt and peppers and serve immediately with crudites, crostini, or vegetable chips, or spread on sandwiches; or cover and refrigerate for a day or so or freeze.

Variations: Cheesy Roasted Red Pepper and Walnut Pesto = add crumbled goat cheese or feta or grated parmesan; Roasted Red Pepper and White Bean Dip = substitute cooked cannellini beans for half the red peppers.


  1. I love the idea of using the pesto as a sauce for polenta! I could definitely see the flavors complimenting each other really well.

  2. Looks awesome. I'm sure I'd love it with feta, as well! And I never even thought to try it over polenta...but I will next time! YUM :D

  3. What a great idea! I bet it would taste equally delicious with grilled polenta! Mmmmm

  4. I bet the pesto is fabulous with polenta, and I'm glad to see that it can be made without a food processor! Two points for roasted red pepper pesto!


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