Smoky Red Pepper Pesto
Makes ¾ cup
Vegan; no gluten, dairy, tomato, soy or other legumes
Gorgeous deep colour and flavour notes. Super easy. Wonderful as a dip, spread, salad dressing, or a zingy splash to top soup, pasta; plain, grilled or BBQ chicken, lamb chops, fish, tofu, eggplant.
Natural colours and flavours can indicate high levels of antioxidants, which help lower the inflammation that characterizes at least 80% of all health conditions.
Replacing the parmesan in this pesto is a similar umami (savoury) flavour from flaky savoury yeast. This is the same yeast that is used to make Marmite. See my Dynamite recipe for an easy equivalent without the sugar and additives. Yeast is high in B vitamins and hard-to-obtain chromium so important for energy delivery.
1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil*
1 medium red pepper, chopped
¼ cup pistachios or walnuts
1 tsp smoky Spanish paprika*
½ cup savoury yeast flakes*
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
2 Tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp sea salt with kelp*
1 tsp basil
1 tsp oreganum
In 1 Tbsp olive oil gently cook the chopped pepper and nuts. Do not brown. As the pepper starts to soften, stir in the smoky paprika (ordinary paprika will not give enough flavour). Cook about 15 minutes in total until the pepper is soft.
Place the pepper mixture in a food processor with the remaining oil, yeast, lemon juice, salt, basil and oreganum. Puree until fairly smooth. A bit of texture gives attractive contrast. Put in a jar and refrigerate until needed. Will thicken a little upon chilling. Keeps one week or more.
Shopping and Preparation Tips*
• Olive Oil: extra virgin olive oil is achieved by using cold mechanical pressure rather than the high heat and chemical solvents typical to most supermarket oils. These practices damage oils and the people who eat them. For information on which fats to choose for which purpose and why, see my TIPS article: The Fats of Life.
• Paprika: only use top quality smoky, sweet Spanish paprika such as La Chinata. This is sold in small decorative tins in the supermarket. Ordinary paprika is usually stale, pale and without the punchy vigour this product contributes.
• Sea salt: is sea water dehydrated by sun. When mixed with seaweed or kelp (containing iodine and other minerals low in our soil) it is ideal in terms of flavour (interesting but not too strong) and mineral balance. Try Pacific Harvest or Harker brands; both in health and gourmet stores. NOTE these are less salty in taste than other brands. Ordinary salt is taken from mines or sea and so highly refined over extreme heat that it contains nothing but sodium chloride. All other minerals are stripped away, such as potassium and magnesium which help regulate fluid balance and blood pressure. Bleach as a whitener and chemicals to prevent clumping may be added to table salt.
• Yeast, flaky savoury: this is the yeast used to make Marmite and similar spreads; not the yeast used for bread making. It looks like pale brown chocolate flakes – but there the similarity ends. High in protein, B vitamins, hard-to-obtain chromium and other minerals. High in one of the 5 core tastes: umami, meaning savoury. Imparts a nutty, cheesy flavour. Buy from health stores and many supermarkets.