Roast pepper pesto (recipe)

  • Preparation Time 15 Minutes
  • Cooking Time 25 Minutes
  • Serves 6

Dairy-free, gluten-free, vegan and vegetarian

As much as I love the classic basil or herb based pestos there is always room to change it up and incorporate some different flavours.

I fell in love with this pesto as soon as I made it. This beautiful vibrant red pepper pesto has a smoky sweet flavour that is heightened from roasting the red peppers first in the oven, on a barbeque or on a gas flame. This brings out their natural sugars in them before being peeled and blitzed in a food processor with a few other ingredients to make this unctuous sauce.

Although I love this on its own with pasta, there are many more ways that I use it. Spread thinly on a pizza base or ciabatta roll (GF if needed) with some vegan cheese and vegetables. This provides a softer less acidic sauce than a tomato-based one.

It also forms the base for a delicious pasta bake, this coats the pasta so well.

  • Silky
  • Smokey
  • Delicious
  • Versatile


  • 3 red peppers
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1/2 tsp of smoked paprika
  • 2 Tbsp pine nuts or walnuts
  • 1/2 cup of loosely packed basil leaves
  • 2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil, you may need slightly more or less.
  • A small sprig of fresh thyme
  • 2 Tbsp nutritional yeast (or vegan parmesan)
  • Salt and pepper to taste.


Roasting the peppers

I love to roast my peppers on the barbeque but roasting them in the oven means that I can get more done at the same time.

  1. Preheat the oven to 200C and lightly oil a non-stick baking sheet
  2. Slice the red peppers in half removing the seeds and any membranes. Rub with olive oil and sprinkle with a little sea salt. Place on a baking tray cut side down facing in one direction Cook for 20-25 minutes until the peppers are soft. Remove from the oven and turn the peppers to face the other way. Place back into the oven for a further 20 minutes until they stat to char and collapse slightly, if not leave them for a little longer.
  3. Remove from the oven and carefully and place on a large chopping board. Invert a mixing bowl upside down over them and leave for 15-20 minutes. This will steam them which will make removing the skin much easier. Yes it is a bit messy but so worth it. Alternatively you can buy ready roasted peppers from any supermarket.
  4. Place the skinned peppers, garlic, nuts, nutritional yeast or vegan parmesan, thyme, paprika, 1 tbsp olive oil and the basil into the food processor blitzing it until it reaches a nice thick consistency, then add a little seasoning and taste.
  5. Add the other tablespoon of olive oil and blitz again. If you still would like it slightly thinner you could add a little water, adjusting seasoning as you go.
  6. If you want to make yours completely smooth just process further.

Keep in an airtight jar for up to 10 days or freeze in individual portion sizes. This is where ice cube moulds come in real handy. I pour the ready pesto into the moulds and freeze. Once frozen I pop them into airtight food bags and freeze again. That way I can take out as many as I need.

As with all recipes, everybody has different tastes so if you want more garlic then add more, it will at least then keep any wandering vampires at bay. Also if you do not have 2 red peppers in the fridge but one orange and one red then use that. I would advise you to use at least 1 red pepper.

 If you like this recipe, don’t forget to tag me on Twitter as @veganalchemist1 or my Facebook page I love seeing your versions of my recipes and I love hearing your comments.

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