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Roasted Red Pepper and Walnut Salsa

I wasn’t sure what to call this – a dip, salsa, pesto, or spread – since it can really work as all four.

I just love things that can multi-task, don’t you?

The other day, I was thumbing through my oversize black binder, filled with recipes that are more than 20 years old, and found a recipe for spicy red pepper and walnut dip that I’d clipped from Food & Wine in 2005. This seemed like a perfect hummus replacement (not that I don’t like hummus, but I’m growing a bit weary of seeing it everywhere), something that I could eat with toasted pita chips and serve as an appetizer, and I liked that it could be made quickly and without turning on the oven (since we’re having one of the hottest summers ever in Paris, this was key).

Thick and pesto-like this also seemed like it would work well stirred into pasta, roasted veggies, or spread on a sandwich in lieu of mayo. When I tasted it, I realized that this recipe closely resembled the Spanish tapas staple, Romesco sauce — made with peppers, tomato, ground almonds and breadcrumbs — traditionally served with shrimp or seafood.

See what I mean? This little salsa/dip/spread/whatever-you-want-to-call-it can do whatever you want.

I took quite a few liberties with this recipe — I simplified it by using jarred peppers, used breadcrumbs that I had in the freezer, added some Parmesan and cayenne, and I just mixed everything together, all at once, in the food processor. The only thing that you’ll need heat for is the walnuts, which I like to do in a cast-iron skillet on the stove, so I can watch them more carefully.

If you don’t have walnuts on hand, pine nuts or almonds would work, too — just be sure and roast them first, whatever you decide to use. (Roast, roast, roast. I’m all about roasting, aren’t I? I guess you probably figured that out by now.)

What will you use this salsa for?

Roasted Red Pepper and Walnut Salsa

3 large red bell peppers, roasted (I used the jarred ones)
1 cup walnuts, roasted
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes or cayenne
2 cups breadcrumbs
1/4 cup Parmesan
1 clove garlic, minced
1 teaspoon sea salt
2 teaspoons sherry vinegar
2 tablespoons olive oil

Put all of the ingredients in a food processor and pulse until combined. Refrigerate or let rest for an hour before serving so the flavors can combine. 

Drizzle a little bit of olive oil on top before serving, if you’d like.