Roasted Red Pepper Pesto – Superstar Sauce for Simple Seasoning

Roasted Red Pepper Pesto

We are right smack in the middle of the busiest time of the year. The Holiday Season has a lot of things going for it. But one thing it doesn’t offer a lot of is extra time. Between the shopping, wrapping, writing out cards, office parties, school plays, and travel, there isn’t a ton of extra time to focus on complicated recipes and long lists of ingredients.

Today, I offer not one, but two wonderfully easy and super delicious and remarkably versatile sauces. This post focuses on the Roasted Red Pepper Pesto. I am simultaneously publishing related post on a Artichoke and Kale Tapenade. Both are made with a very short list of ingredients, which you probably already have on hand. You could make both together in less than a half an hour.

Either one alone or both make great dips to take to that last minute holiday party you forgot about. Or toss on some pasta for a quick dish at the school pot luck. Lets dive into how to make the Roasted Red Pepper Pesto.

How it Began

The origins of my Roasted Red Pepper Pesto goes back more than a dozen years, and it has been an easy ‘go to’ recipe ever since. The Elegant Baker introduced me to a version of this that she found in on of Jacques Pepin’s cookbooks. I have somewhat adapted the recipe to our own tastes, but the bones are still from the original recipe.

Jacques Pepin has always been a great source of inspiration to me because he makes food so approachable. If you watch him, you will quickly understand that although he can certainly nail it on the big, fancy dishes, that is not his approach to cooking at home. He focuses on simple, healthy dishes that use what is in season and at hand. He simplifies the preparation as much as possible, and he makes the elegant look easy.

The Roasted Red Pepper Pesto is my variation of a recipe from his book”. It does rely on you having access to a food processor. If that isn’t available, I blender or immersion blender can work to. I’ve tried making with my stick blender, and was happy with the results. That said, I still prefer making using my food processor.

So Simple!

This is one of the quickest, easiest dishes you will ever make. In fact, while making this recipe for blog photos, I had some holiday music on in the background. The entire preparation – from opening the jar of peppers, to having it ready in a bowl – took less time than it took for Bing Crosby to sing White Christmas. And that included me stopping to take photos. It is really simple.

How simple. Open jar of peppers and drain (keep the juice in case you want to thin the Roasted Red Pepper Pesto). Add peppers, garlic and pecans to a food processor. Turn on and drizzle extra virgin olive oil into the bowl of the processor until desired consistency is reached. Done. Easy right?

A Sauce by Any Other Name …

A small aside here. With dishes like this, I am always puzzled as to what to call them. Are they a dip? Certainly both dishes today can be used as dips, and would be at home in any mezze platter, tapas party or charcuterie board. But both are so much more than that. They can be used beyond that purpose as well. Topping chicken, tossed with vegetables,

I found the same struggle when describing my Romesco Sauce, the Beet Green Pesto and even the Moroccan Zaalouk. All of them can serve many roles in a kitchen repertoire beyond just “dip” or “side dish”. This sort of versatility is what draws me to them – but it makes it hard to put a single label on the.

So I’m going with “sauce” because in culinary terms “ Sauces are meant to relish and compliment foods, and make them more interesting to eat. They pull together different elements of a dish to compliment or provide a contrast in flavors and textures. (See)”

Dips (dipping sauce), pestos, tzatziki, hummus, vinaigrettes, salsas, and tapenades are all sauces. Our sauces can be used in a wide variety of ways to enhance our foods.

So Many Ways to Use!

The possibilities of how to use this are only limited by your imagination and sense of culinary adventure. Here are some examples of using the Roasted Red Pepper Pesto beyond just a dip.

Use as a sauce with tortellinis;

a topping for eggs at breakfast;

a coating on roasted potatoes.

Other ideas include adding a couple of tablespoons to a soup to ramp up the flavor. Dressing up a box Mac and Cheese. Using as a spread on sandwiches instead of mayo

One final note. If you find you’ve made to much Roasted Red Pepper Pesto, it freezes really well. I scoop mine into a silicon mini muffin pan and freeze individual portions. Each cup is about 2 ounce portion. After they’ve frozen, take them out of the muffin pan and store in an air tight container. Whenever you need a quick hit of flavor, thaw one of these out and use it to add some last minute zing!

Roasted Red Pepper Pesto

Course: Appetizer, Main Course, Side Dish, Tapas
Cuisine: Mediterranean
Keyword: olive oil, pecan, pepper
Prep Time: 2 minutes
Cook Time: 3 minutes
Total Time: 5 minutes
Roasted Red Pepper Pesto, made with a very few ingredients, which you probably already have, delivers amazing flavor with little effort
Print Recipe


  • 1 jar roasted red peppers drained
  • 1/2 cup pecan pieces chopped
  • 1 clove garlic
  • Kosher Salt to taste
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil


  • Place the first four ingredients in the bowl of a food processor
  • Process until desired consistency
  • Slowly stream olive oil into food processor while it is running
  • Transfer to serving bowl

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