Fusilli with roasted red pepper pesto are easy to make, ready in 15 min and packed with vibrant italian summer flavours!
Italian pesto is probably the easiest pasta sauce ever invented. It comes from the Italian word pestare, which means to pound or crush, because it was traditionally made with pestle and mortar. The original recipe includes basil leaves, pine nuts, garlic, extravirgin olive oil and parmesan cheese.
Quick and versatile, you can use all kind of ingredients to make a delicious fresh pesto in less than 5 mins. You can’t go wrong with the all-time favorite classic basil pesto, but other versions using different vegetables can be just as delicious. I’ve created some varieties using broccoli and rocket, and now this rich and delicate summer pesto, using a big batch of red bell peppers found at the local food market.
Ready in less than 15 mins and very little effort, this roasted red pepper pesto is so much lighter compared to the traditional one, and all you need is a bunch of seasonal healthy ingredients: high-quality pasta, roasted red bell peppers, thyme and basil, fresh ricotta cheese and extra virgin olive oil ( go for a lightly fruity Italian or Greek organic olive oil).
These Fusilli with roasted red pepper pesto are a favorite in my family, and they always make lunch incredibly easy. Since it’s not a quick task, I usually roast the peppers the night before. To roast the peppers you can use different techniques, for me both the oven and this electric grill do a great job. You can also easily double up the quantities and store part of your pesto in the fridge for the next days. Leftover pesto can be paired with anything from crostini and bruschetta, as a dip with fresh crudités, over meat and grilled vegetables. Sky is the limit, really!
To make this delicious and incredibly delicate roasted red pepper pesto, all you have to do is throw the ingredients in your blender and pulse until it reaches the perfect creamy consistency. It takes literally 5 mins and the result is a summery sauce that goes great with any kind of pasta and makes a healthy, light lunch/dinner dish.
Talking about pasta, for me it must be either spaghetti or fusilli. In this case, I’ve used Garofalo fusilloni, which are slightly bigger and such a pleasure to eat. This particular shape binds with the sauce extremely well and it’s my favorite choice when it comes to pasta + pesto. Not to mention the quality of the pasta itself, made with only the finest semolina and through the traditional bronze died method. Garofalo quality never fails to impress me over the years.
You can make the red pepper pesto while the fusilli cook, and even set the table in the meantime. Drain the pasta al dente, 2 mins before is fully cooked ( about 11 mins). Toss your fusilli with pesto, a small quantity of cooking water if necessary, sprinkle with fresh thyme/basil and serve immediately. Whilst I like to keep it simple and serve them with some sliced roasted peppers ( to add a little texture), my chef hubby also likes a few cubes of mozzarella on top and extra basil leaves. How can I blame him? The mozzarella slowly melts in your mouth and embraces both pesto and pasta in one gooey tasty bite.
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Easy and quick to make, these light fusilli with red pepper pesto can also be prepared ahead and served at room temperature. Almost like a pasta salad, these fusilli are conveniently vegetarian and will be a great option for a bbq or picnic, or a light lunch/dinner on a hot summer day.
- 350gr Fusilli ( I use Fusilloni Garofalo )
- 3 tbsp cubed fresh mozzarella (optional)
- 1 finely sliced roasted red pepper
- 350gr sliced roasted red peppers
- 3 tbsp toasted pine nuts or toasted almonds
- a bunch of fresh basil leaves
- 2 sprigs fresh thyme leaves
- 1 garlic clove
- 2 tbsp ricotta cheese
- A glug of extravirgin olive oil
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Cook the pasta in a large pot of slightly salted boiling water.
- In a blender, add the red peppers, basil, garlic, pine nuts or almonds and olive oil. Process until smooth and thick, then mix in the ricotta. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
- Drain the pasta al dente, 2 mins before cooking time suggested on package. Reserve ¼ cup of cooking water.
- Transfer the pasta in a large serving bowl and toss in the red pepper pesto. Add in a little water if necessary to make the sauce creamier.
- Season with black pepper and top with cubed mozzarella or sliced roasted red pepper and basil leaves.
- Serve immediately or at room temperature. Enjoy!