Orecchiette with Red Pepper Pesto

A fresh, flavorful and easy to make dish, Orecchiette with Red Pepper Pesto features hearty orecchiette pasta coated in a creamy red pepper pesto that includes parmesan, walnuts, basil and garlic.

1 cup walnut pieces
2 12-oz canned roasted red peppers, drained
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 cups fresh basil leaves, washed and dried
1 cup Italian parsley leaves, washed and dried
4 cloves peeled garlic
1 cup olive oil
2 lbs orecchiette pasta
8 Tbsp unsalted butter (optional)
Toasted walnuts, coarsely chopped
24 fresh basil leaves, washed, dried, and cut in thin strips

Pre-heat oven to 350ºF.


PLACE walnuts on sheet tray. Bake in 350ºF oven for 12 minutes.


COMBINE red peppers, toasted walnuts, parmesan cheese, basil, parsley and garlic in a food processor. With motor running, slowly add olive oil and process until mixture forms a coarsely chopped paste.


COOK orecchiette pasta according to package directions. Drain pasta, reserving 1/2 cup cooking liquid, and return pasta to pot. Heat red pepper sauce in a sauce pot, stir in butter (if using) and reserved cooking liquid. Cook just until sauce is heated through. Stir in pasta and coat with sauce.
TRANSFER pasta to serving plates and top each with toasted walnut pieces and shredded basil.