My kids are spectacularly fussy eaters. I’ve long given up caring, and our mealtimes now are a mix of children eating nothing/plain potatoes while the grown-ups have a feast, and special child-friendly meals that the grown-ups eat because it’s there. “Pastapesto,” as the little monsters lovingly call it, is different, because eeeeeverybody loves it.
It’s actually the only dish I have ever created myself. It all happened when I picked up a jar of roast pepper pesto in the shop, and realized while checking for E numbers that it consisted of only five ingredients. I never bought that jar, because come on, I can do that! It really is simple, and worked out perfectly the first time I tried making it.
To feed a family of 4 or 5, you will need:
- 3 red, orange or yellow peppers
- 75 g (about 1/3 cup) cashews (roasted and salted work best)
- 75 g (about 1/3 cup) hard cheese. Parmesan or Grana Padano are best, but Pecorino works surprisingly well
- 20 g (just less than 1 1/2 tbsp.) tomato puree
- 50 ml (about 3 1/4 tbsp) olive oil
- Any pasta
- Slice the peppers and spread them on a baking tray.
- Pour over the oil and mix or shake gently.
- Roast in the oven for at least 30 minutes.
- Meanwhile, layer cashews, tomato purée and cheese in a plastic dish compatible with a hand-held blender. I have never tried making this in a food processor, but it should work.
- When the peppers are roasted and have turned slightly black at the edges, let them cool for a bit and add them to the other ingredients. Make sure you add all the oil, too!
- Blend it, baby!
- Serve with pasta.
This will do. The result looks nothing like any pesto you would get in a jar; it’s much thicker and lighter in colour. The taste is nothing like it, either — it’s a divine mix of sweet, cheesy and nutty. You can alter the measurements depending on your preferred taste. I’ve tried adding more cheese and less nuts, and my mum insists on putting copious amounts of garlic in. But the above recipe is the one that won my children over, so I’m not going to mess with it! They get their vitamins, healthy oils, nuts and dairy, and I feel good. Plus, leftovers are great on toast!