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Penne with Red-Pepper Walnut Pesto

penne with red pepper walnut pesto

Penne is livened up with a red pepper pesto, yum!

  • Duration
  • Cook Time
  • Prep Time
  • 4 ServingsServings


  • Half a large red bell pepper
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 3/4 cup California walnuts, finely chopped
  • 3/8 cup sun-dried tomatoes
  • Handful of fresh basil, plus 4-5 leaves for garnish
  • 3/8 cup grated Pecorino Romano or Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
  • Salt and pepper
  • 3/8 cup Extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1- pound box penne


1 Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Halve and trim red pepper and, when oven is heated, place half skin-side down on oven rack (or use a pan if preferred). Roast 15-20 minutes, or until skin is well shriveled (but not blackened).
2 Meanwhile, place garlic cloves in medium saucepan, add cold water to cover, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes, or until soft enough to pierce with a fork. Remove garlic using a slotted spoon (keeping water in pan), and set aside to drain.
3 Meanwhile, quickly toast chopped walnuts in a warmed frying pan (without oil), stirring consistently, over medium-high heat just until they start to turn golden. Remove from heat and place on paper towels.c
4 Place sun-dried tomatoes in saucepan containing reserved water, adding more water to cover as necessary. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Simmer 8-10 minutes. Remove using a slotted spoon (keeping water in pan), and set aside to drain, blotting well with paper towels.
5 Meanwhile, prepare an ice bath. Blanch basil very briefly (3-4 seconds) in still-warm reserved water, then quickly transfer to ice bath. Drain and dry basil thoroughly with paper towels.
6 Thoroughly dry all above ingredients with paper towels as necessary, then place in a blender or processor, adding 3/8 cup cheese, and salt and pepper to taste. Blend, adding oil incrementally, until smooth and pastelike. Set pesto aside.
7 Prepare pasta according to directions on box and drain, reserving some (1/4-3/8 cup) starchy pasta water.
8 Transfer pesto to large serving bowl and add pasta, mixing in pasta water incrementally to taste (you may not need to use it all) to keep moist and lend a creamy consistency.
9 Garnish dish with basil. Serve pasta with additional grated cheese.

Source: California Walnut Board

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