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Spaghetti with Red Pepper Pesto

Spaghetti with Red Pepper Pesto


  • 3 red bell peppers

  • 3 Fresno chili peppers or other medium-heat red chili peppers, seeded

  • 3 tablespoons pine nuts or sliced almonds, toasted

  • A small handful of basil leaves

  • 2 sprigs fresh oregano leaves, 1 tablespoon or 1 teaspoon dried

  • 2-3 cloves garlic, finely chopped or grated

  • Salt and pepper

  • About 1/3 cup grated Pecorino cheese, plus some to pass at table

  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)

  • 1 pound spaghetti

  • Additional torn basil, chopped mint and parsley for garnish (optional)


Bring a pot of water to a boil for the pasta. Roast the peppers over a flame on the stovetop or under the broiler to blacken the skins all over. Place the peppers in a bowl and cover with plastic wrap until cool. Peel the skins and seed the peppers. Place the roasted red peppers and chili peppers in a food processor and add the nuts, basil, oregano, garlic, salt and pepper. Add the cheese, turn the processor on and stream in the EVOO to form a thick sauce.

Salt the pasta water and cook the spaghetti to al dente. Reserve about 1 cup of the starchy cooking water; drain the pasta and return to the pot. Toss the pasta with the pesto and half of the starchy cooking water. Toss the pasta with the sauce for a minute or two to combine thoroughly, adding a little more starchy cooking water if necessary. Serve with more cheese and some torn basil leaves or finely chopped mint and parsley, if desired.