Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Bright Red Pepper Pesto Linguine with a Side of Asparagus with Lemon Butter

I ordered Amanda Grant's Fresh and Fast Vegan Pleasures (whose title sounds more like an enticing and erotic sex instruction book than a cookbook--but NO, that's NOT why I ordered it--ahem) from the library last week, and after flipping through it a few times, I decided I was going to try out a couple of recipes from it this weekend.

The first was for a spicy red pepper pesto sauce to put over linguine noodles. I thought it sounded light and spicy and summery for a pasta dish. It didn't dawn on me until after I purchased all the ingredients that a) it was going to be 90+ degrees this weekend, and b) some of the ingredients needed to be roasted in the broiler. Unfortunately, I had already bought the ingredients, so, not wanting them to spoil, I sucked it up, dragged out the window air conditioner, and sweated my armpits stank in the kitchen for an hour or so.

I also wasn't able to track down any red chili peppers (which is what the recipe calls for--I was told by a fella at the market that they're too expensive to drag in--$100 a case and he doesn't sell enough to come out even) so I ended up having to modify it and use green chili peppers instead. But that's ok, because it still turned out flame-licking and flavorfully good nonetheless. It is rich and roasted tasting and not for the faint-of-heart--the inclusion of three chili peppers infuses a lot of kick into this sauce.

I post the recipe here only because I've modified it enough that it shouldn't infringe on the copyrighting of the original (go out and grab a copy of the cookbook if you like the sound of this recipe, and try it out!):

Bright Red Pepper Pesto Linguine

4 red peppers, roasted, peeled, and deseeded
3 green chili peppers, roasted, peeled, and deseeded
1/4 c. of chopped hazelnuts, pan-roasted
2-3 cloves garlic
3 T. olive oil
1/2 T. nutritional yeast
1 big handful of basil leaves
Excess basil leaves, washed and reserved


Toss the basil, garlic, and hazelnuts into a food processor. Pulse until pasty. Add the red peppers and chili peppers and then slowly drizzle in the oil, pulsing all the while. Add nutritional yeast. Process down until a fairly-smooth paste.

Serve over pasta noodles and top with fresh shredded basil.

Makes enough for about 4 servings.

* * * * *

As a side dish, I decided to try a variation on asparagus--normally I'm all about broiling it as it gives the asparagus and rich, full, almost nutty flavor, but since my kitchen was already sweltering, I figured some sort of steaming/frying recipe would work out better.

I snagged the recipe from the cookbook I always refer to as "The Big White Vegetarian Cookbook" (because I suck at remembering its name) but which is actually titled 1,000 Vegetarian Recipes by Carol Gelles, and I veganized it. The end result: a very nice and light asparagus with some summery zip to it, courtesy of the lemons.

Asparagus with Lemon Butter


1 bunch of asparagus
1 T. of fresh lemon juice
1 T. vegan margarine


Steam the asparagus until nearly done. Remove from heat. Heat up a frying pan and throw in the asparagus and vegan margarine. Once the margarine's melted, add the lemon juice as well. Cook for a minute or two until the buttery-lemon mixture has coated the asparagus. Serve.

Makes enough for 2 servings.

* * * * *

Both are relatively simple recipes and (if you can track down some already-roasted red peppers and chili peppers) perfect for summer. The pesto and pasta can be served cold or warm. And the asparagus makes a nice, quiet (but flavorful) sidekick.

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