Pesto used to be one of those things I made because it was a way to use up extra basil. Great, I made pesto! But, now what do I do with it?
Toss it with pasta.
I quickly tired of this, so I scrambled it into eggs. Then I spread it on a grilled cheese sandwich and stirred it into some beans.
This summer I discovered dolloping it on to potatoes, preferably after those potatoes were browned in a cast-iron skillet with oil and…a little pesto.
A friend of mine calls dill her “hammer”. When summer rolls around, she puts it in everything. I had dinner at her house earlier this season and witnessed the hammer in action. Dill. In everything.
Pesto has become my hammer.
That said, when I came across this stuffed pepper recipe in my files, I thought it would be a way to use up some pesto and that would be that.
Imagine my surprise when this dish turned out to be one of my favorite meals. I suppose this makes sense considering it’s pretty much a recipe for cheesy pesto potatoes in a red pepper shell, and who can say no to cheesy potatoes?
So, this one is for the pesto lovers and those not-so-sure about pesto alike. Including my sister. Whose house I showed up at earlier this summer with a jar of extra pesto in hand.
“Do you guys like, pesto?” I asked, stuffing the jar in the fridge.
“Uh, yeah, we use it sometimes,” she replied, basically telling me “no”.
No worries. This recipe can change minds. Have two for a meal or one for a side. Or two as a side, because they are just that good. Enjoy!
Vegetarian Stuffed Peppers
Yield 4 stuffed pepper halves
For the Peppers
- 7 ounces small new potatoes
- 2 red bell peppers
- Olive oil, for brushing
- 4 ounces feta cheese
- ¼ cup pesto
- Optional, basil for garnish
For the Pesto
- 2 cups loosely packed basil leaves
- 2 garlic cloves
- ½ cup olive oil
- ½ cup parmesan cheese
- ¼ cup walnuts
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Bring a pot of water to a boil and add the potatoes. Allow to cook until just tender, about 8-12 minutes depending on the size of your potatoes. Drain and set aside.
- Halve the peppers lengthwise and remove the seeds and ribs. Brush the outsides of the pepper with a bit of olive oil, and then place the peppers cut-side up in a baking dish.
- When the potatoes are cool enough to handle, quarter them and place them in a bowl. Stir in the feta and the pesto. If you are making the pesto too, combine all ingredients in a food processor and pulse until smooth.
- Scoop some of the potato, cheese, and pesto mixture into each pepper.
- Bake at 400 degrees F for 40-45 minutes until the peppers have softened and the stuffing is slightly browned.
- If desired, garnish with shredded basil before serving.
About the recipe
The recipe as written makes a small portion but is easily doubled.
My definition of "small" is a new potato about the size of a ping pong ball.
A word on the pesto
We probably all have a go-to pesto recipe, so feel free to use what you like or even purchase pesto at the store. I included a recipe here to save pesto newcomers the trouble of searching for a separate recipe. Note that it does yield more than the 1/4 cup required for this recipe. Simply store the extra pesto in a jar in the refrigerator or freeze it for much later use.