Inspired by a trip to Spain, I developed my recipe for Roasted Pepper (Capsicum) Pesto. Spanish food is colourful, vibrant and full of flavour and this pesto epitomises these qualities. As well, it is simple to make!
Why we love this recipe:
This deep red pesto is easily made at home and has a vibrant flavour which is far superior to store-bought varieties.
The flavour is heightened by first roasting the red peppers. The peppers become slightly charred and this imparts a delicious smoky flavour. Almonds, too, are roasted to further enhance their nuttiness. A dash of maple syrup adds a touch of sweetness, garlic adds an essential note, whilst some lemon juice adds a welcome acidity and boosts the vibrant flavour of the dish.
We are all familiar with the much-loved basil pesto but this red pepper version is a great alternative. The roasted peppers, combined with the other ingredients, form a creamy textured, vibrantly coloured and full flavoured Roasted Capsicum Pesto.
Ingredients in this recipe:
Please see the recipe card further along in the post for exact quantities of ingredients and the full method.
Red capsicums/bell peppers – they are roasted and peeled, becoming slightly charred and developing sweet, slightly smoky flavour.
Blanched almonds – these are almonds without their skin and are readily available in supermarkets.
Olive oil – for the best flavour and maximum nutritional benefit I prefer to use extra virgin olive oil.
Garlic – I use a fresh garlic clove; the flavour of fresh garlic is superior to the bottled variety.
Dijon mustard – a style of mustard that was developed in France, adds flavour.
Lemon juice – my preference is for freshly squeezed juice as the flavour is superior to the bottled variety.
Maple syrup – a small amount boosts the sweetness of the peppers.
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper – for the best flavour I use sea salt. It is naturally harvested with minimal processing. Freshly ground black pepper is superior to pre-ground pepper which tends to taste dull and flat.
Step by step instructions:
To begin, roast the capsicums by putting them under a hot oven grill. Grill them for 15-20 minutes, giving a quarter-turn every 5 minutes or so, until the peppers are charred and soft. The skin will become black and crispy.
Remove them from the oven, place into a paper bag and seal or put into a heatproof bowl and sit a plate on top. The steam makes it easier to remove the skins. Let them steam for 15-20 minutes then remove the charred skin, the stalk and the seeds.
- Cut the peppers into rough strips. Pat them dry with a paper towel to remove as much moisture as possible. After removing the peppers from the oven, heat your oven to 180 degrees C (350 F). Place blanched almonds onto a small tray and roast in the oven until golden brown and aromatic. Tip them into a bowl and set aside until cool.
- Put the capsicums and almonds, along with the remaining ingredients, into a high-powered blender.
- Blend until smooth. Check the seasoning and adjust to your taste if necessary.
- Turn the pesto into a bowl if using immediately or into an airtight container and store in the refrigerator.
Tips for success and FAQs:
Yes, certainly. Cashews and macadamias would be great choices.
It will keep in a covered container in the refrigerator for 5 days.
Yes, you can. Place it in an airtight container, and it will keep for 3-4 months in the freezer.
When it comes to serving:
- Use the pesto as a dip with crackers and crudites;
- Make bruschetta. Toast or grill some crusty bread, spread with fresh goat cheese and top with some pesto;
- Make crostini by slicing a baguette to 6 ½ mm (¼ inch) rounds, brush both sides with olive oil and bake in a 180 degrees C/355 F oven 10-15 minutes, turning once. When cool, top with pesto and a white anchovy;
- For vegan bruschetta, top toasted crusty bread with pesto, rocket and black olives;
- Stir the pesto through pasta with some pitted black olives and grated parmesan;
- Serve alongside roast chicken.
More delicious recipes for you to try:
Some more of our favourite dip recipes are below – why not create a colourful dip platter to enjoy with friends or family?
- Whipped Feta
- Green Goddess Dip
- Easy Hummus
- Caramelised Onion Dip
- The Best Baba Ganoush
- Simple and Delicious Tuna Dip
- Avocado, Yoghurt and Mint Dip
- Roasted Carrot Hummus
- Cannellini Bean Dip
- Smoked Salmon Pate
I encourage you to make this Roasted Capsicum Pesto which is naturally gluten-free and vegan. Enjoy the many ways to use it. Please let me know in the comments below if you try it.
This post was originally published in July 2018. It has been updated with new photos and more information. The recipe remains the same.
Roasted Pepper (Capsicum) Pesto
- 2 large red capsicums – roasted and peeled See Note 1
- ¼ cup blanched almonds – toasted See Note 2
- 1 tbsp olive oil See Notes 3 and 4
- 1 small garlic clove – chopped
- ½ tsp Dijon mustard
- 1 tsp lemon juice See Note 5
- 1 tsp maple syrup
- sea salt and freshly ground black pepper – to taste
To Roast the Capsicums:
- To roast the capsicums/peppers, put them on a foil-lined baking tray on their sides under a hot oven grill. Grill them for 15-20 minutes, giving a quarter-turn every 5 minutes or so, until the peppers are charred and soft. The skin will become very black and crispy and that gives them a slightly smoky flavour.
- Remove from the oven, place into a paper bag and seal or put into a heatproof bowl and sit a plate on top. The steam makes it easier to remove the skins.
- When you remove the capsicums, heat your oven to 180 degrees C (350F). Place the blanched almonds onto a small tray and toast 5-7 minutes, stirring once or twice, until golden brown and aromatic. Keep an eye on the almonds when roasting them; they have a tendency to burn the moment you turn your back. Tip into a bowl and set aside until cool.
- After the capsicums have steamed for 15-20 minutes and are cool enough to handle, remove the charred skin, the stalk and the seeds. Cut into strips; they don’t need to be uniform as you’re going to blend them. Pat the roasted and peeled red capsicum strips with a paper towel. It’s important to remove as much moisture as possible so the pesto is not too thin.
For the Pesto:
- Put the capsicums and almonds, along with the remaining ingredients, into a high-powered blender and blend until smooth. – see Note 6
- Add sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste. Put into a serving bowl and enjoy.
- When choosing capsicums to roast, look for the smoothest ones as they are easiest to peel. Avoid those which are not a regular shape and have too many nooks and crannies. Please don’t try this recipe with green capsicums. They are not as ripe as red and have a slightly bitter flavour.
- Blanched almonds are almonds without the skin. They are readily available in supermarkets.
- For the best flavour and to obtain maximum nutritional benefit, I like to use extra virgin olive oil.
- The Australian tablespoon is 20 ml or 4 teaspoons. In many other countries, the tablespoon is 15 ml or 3 teaspoons. You may have to adjust your measurements accordingly.
- My preference is freshly squeezed lemon juice; the flavour is brighter than the bottled variety.
- To obtain a smooth result, a high-speed blender is necessary. I use a NutriBullet. If you want a smooth result but don’t have a high-speed blender, I recommend pushing the pesto through a sieve. Alternatively, use a regular blender. The pesto will have a little more texture but will still be delicious.
- Please note, the nutritional information is based on this recipe being enjoyed as a starter by four people. It does not include what the pesto is served with. The nutritional information is an estimate only.