Linguini with Red Pepper Pesto

Red pepper pesto linguine recipe

Herblay, France

Hi there, Here’s a  recipe that I adapted from Pasta Presto  by Norman Kolpas many, many years ago. It is a) delicious b) easy and c) cheap. It’s also great for casual entertaining. Make the pesto ahead. Start your dinner with a nice selection of antipasti or an arugula salad and finish with something fluffy and lemony. Serve a full bodied red wine for extra joy. Beth and I had this for dinner the other night without the antipasti or salad and it was just fine. I made a chunky version without the cheese as you can see from the photos. WARNING:if you want do the chunky version, chop or purée the garlic very fine. I didn’t and the local vampires were not pleased. Don’t worry if you’re a little short of this or that. It will be good anyway.


3 medium roasted red bell peppers, with stems, peels and seeds removed. Canned peppers are fine if you’re in a hurry.

2-3 garlic cloves, chopped. This is a matter of personal taste and proximity of vampires. Garlic cloves vary a lot in size. Don’t be timid!

4-5 tablespoons of best possible olive oil. Be ready to add a bit more to get the texture you like.The original recipe calls for over a cup. I just can’t bring myself to do that but suit yourself.

3/4 cup pitted Kalamata  or other black olives

1/2 cup grated Pecorino or Parmesan cheese. I use  the Pecorino now because Mr. W can’t deal with cow’s milk cheeses any more. If you have vegan friends leave this out all together and pass cheese (or not) for those who want some.

1/2 cup packed fresh flat parsley leaves. You could also use basil but you’ll be surprised how good the parsley is.

3 tablespoons lemon juice

1 teaspoon grated lemon rind (optional)

hot pepper sauce to taste (optional)

salt and pepper to taste. Do taste-some olives are way saltier than others.


Put everything you’re using in a food processor with a metal blade and pulse until it’s coarsely chopped. If you like it chunky stop now. Otherwise, scrape the ingredients down from the sides and process until the sauce is really smooth. If it seems too thick you can add a little more oil or a little hot water. The water you’re cooking your pasta in is best, so if you make the pesto ahead of time wait until you’re ready to drain your pasta to add the water, one tablespoon at a time. I love this with linguini but spaghetti or ribbons are good too. Serve with extra cheese (and hot sauce if I’m coming for dinner!).



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10 thoughts on “Linguini with Red Pepper Pesto

  1. ellenfetu April 1, 2014 at 5:40 pm Reply

    Yum!! Can’t wait to try this! thanks, Jan!

  2. Emily April 1, 2014 at 6:03 pm Reply

    I have always loved this dish. YUM! I am so going to make this over the weekend. Delicious.

  3. Jan April 1, 2014 at 6:17 pm Reply

    Thank you ladies. It’s a good old standby. The olive flavour really comes through so be sure you aren’t serving someone who hates black olives. Apparently such people exist! Mind boggled.

  4. Beth April 1, 2014 at 10:54 pm Reply

    Love this recipe!

  5. Hanin April 10, 2014 at 8:52 am Reply

    Jan, this looks really amazing!
    And I must say the pictures are beautiful and really inviting. Well done!

    • Beth April 10, 2014 at 11:55 am Reply

      Yes, I agree with you Hanin – the pics are fab 😉

  6. Jan April 10, 2014 at 2:14 pm Reply

    Could that by any chance be because you took them Beth?????

    • Beth April 17, 2014 at 12:28 pm Reply

      I don’t know what you’re talking about… I’m just agreeing with Hanin 😉

  7. Hanin April 24, 2014 at 8:00 pm Reply

    Hey Jan! I cooked the pasta this evening… OMG it was really really delicious! Thomas recognized your recipe and he loved it too. It was so tasty and so different from what I usually cook. LOVED it, thank you so much for sharing!

  8. Jan April 27, 2014 at 8:31 am Reply

    Hi from Milos where at the moment we have thunder and lightning and huge black clouds. Very dramatic!

    Glad you liked the pesto! I’ve been thinking about your post of the meat and yogurt pasta and am going to try reinventing it with finely chopped vegetables and maybe rice-we’ll see. We have my brother-in-law and his wife here with us. They are vegetarian and are always happy to try new things and don’t mind me experimenting on them. Is that wise I wonder?

    I brought the chicken spices from Jordan that you gave me and am still trying to identify all the components. For sure there is clove and coriander-the rest? Not sure. Maybe I’ll cheat and see if I can find it on the internet.

    Anyway, I’ll let you know how it turns out.

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