I know I just posted about another pesto recipe last week, but this is one is so completely different that I thought it'd be okay to post about it today. This one is not made with basil, pine nuts, or even any cheese like the last one was. It isn't like any other pesto I've ever had. No, sir, this one uses green bell, jalapeno, and serrano peppers as its base!
As soon as I read over the ingredients list for this one, I thought it just sounded too crazy to work. However, that usually just makes me want to make something even more, because I just have to see for myself if it's going to be successful. So I decided to go for it.
You start out by toasting some pumpkin seeds in the oven. When they come out, in go some bell peppers and jalapeno peppers to roast. I used a combination of jalapeno and serrano as well as the bell, because that's what I needed to use up. Once the peppers are cool, and the skin is removed, you throw them in the food processor with the cooled pumpkin seeds, some cilantro, and some garlic, and coarsely chop. Stream in some olive oil and some lime juice, add salt and pepper to taste, and that's all it takes to produce a wildly flavorful, tangy, nutty, and very spicy concoction that tastes unbelievable on pasta.
The recipe I used (which I found on the site which used to be Recipezaar, but they've now switched it over to Food.com) added some halved cherry tomatoes in with the pasta and the pesto. Since I've discovered that I really love roasted, burst tomatoes, I went with that method for mine, and it was delicious. I'm sure any number of other veggies would be great in this, all tossed together with the pasta. I can see zucchini being delicious in there, asparagus, even peas. The possibilities are many for things to pair with this pesto!
Be prepared for the heat, though. This pesto is kinda killer! Granted, you can easily adjust the heat level to your liking by altering the combination of peppers you use. I love having that versatility with a recipe. I'm sure this would even work with just red and green bell peppers, and no hot peppers. However, for my tastes, I loved this just the way it was!
adapted from Recipezaar (now Food.com), recipe #13141
makes 4-6 servings
5 Tbsp. shelled pumpkin seeds
2 green bell peppers
1 jalapeno pepper
2 serrano peppers
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
3 cloves garlic
1/4 cup olive oil
2 Tbsp. fresh lime juice, plus the zest of half a lime
1/2 tsp. salt
freshly ground black pepper
1 lb. bucatini pasta (the thick spaghetti with a tiny hole down the center)
1 1/2 cups halved cherry tomatoes (roasted or not, it's up to you)
1/2 lime, cut into wedges
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Toast the pumpkin seeds in a single layer on a baking sheet for 6-8 minutes, until fragrant and crunchy. Crank up the oven temperature to 450 degrees F.
2. Place all the peppers on a baking sheet, and roast them for 20 minutes or so, turning frequently. The smaller hot peppers take only about 10-15 minutes.
3. When the skin of the peppers has blistered, remove them from the oven. Let them cool a bit (I placed mine in a glass bowl covered in saran wrap to let them sweat a bit), then pull the skin away from the flesh. Discard the skin.
4. Place the peppers in a food processor, along with 4 Tbsp. of the reserved pumpkin seeds, the cilantro, and the garlic. Blend until the contents are coarsely chopped. With the machine running, slowly stream in the oil and lime juice. Blend in salt and pepper to taste.
5. While the peppers are roasting, you can start the pasta. Bring a large pot of water to a boil, and cook the pasta according to the package directions. Drain the pasta, then return it to the pot. Add the tomatoes and the pesto, and stir well to combine everything. (If you decide to go with burst cherry tomatoes, you can throw them in the oven on a separate baking sheet while the peppers roast. Simply coat them with a bit of olive oil, some salt and pepper, and let them cook for 10-15 minutes, until shriveled and bursting.)
6. Divide the pasta among shallow bowls, then sprinkle the reserved 1 Tbsp. pumpkin seeds and half the zest of a lime over each serving. Serve with lime wedges on the side.