Roasted Yellow Pepper Pesto

I had purchased a package of yellow peppers at the grocery store and once I got home didn’t know what to make with them. So I roasted them in the oven, added some olive oil and put them in the fridge.

Last night the idea came to me to make a pesto. Not sure if it was possible and was surprised to find several recipes when I did an internet search. I chose a name I trust, Stefano Faita, whose recipes are usually easy and simple. Here is the recipe I used as a base for my Roasted Yellow Pepper Pesto.

This pesto could also be used as a topping for bruschetta, crackers, or melba toast.

I have made substitutions to Stephano’s Roasted Red Pepper Pesto recipe in brackets.

Roasted Yellow Pepper Pesto

Use this quick and easy pesto as a dip for grilled shrimp or sauce for pasta. For a more traditional pesto, add a little freshly grated Parmesan cheese.

1 garlic clove, roughly chopped (I used 2 cloves, but next time might add more-I love garlic)
1 cup roughly chopped roasted peppers, jarred or homemade (5 yellow peppers)
2 sundried tomatoes, roughly chopped
2 tbsp. chopped fresh basil leaves
1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted
2 tsp. red wine vinegar
1/4 cup to 1/3 cup olive oil
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
Parmesan cheese as desired

Add garlic, peppers, sundried tomatoes, basil, pine nuts, red wine vinegar and olive oil to food processor. Pulse until smooth, adding more olive oil if needed. Season with salt and pepper.

Yield: About 2 cups.

Source: In the Kitchen with Stefano Faita



How to reconstitute dried mushrooms

Dried mushrooms are often listed as an essential pantry item by many accomplished cooks. They may not be right there on top with olive oil and sacks of rice but they usually hold their own somewhere in the middle, especially if you cook Asian or European cuisines.

Dried mushrooms can be pricy, but they pack a lot of flavor. Once the mushrooms are soaked, strained, and chopped, even just a small amount will add enormous flavor to a dish. Here’s how to make the most of your dried mushrooms.

Once an exotic, somewhat obscure item, dried mushrooms are easily available in many grocery stores these days. They fall roughly into two categories: Asian mushrooms like shiitake, wood ear, cloud ear, and matsutake, and European/American mushrooms like porcini, morel, trumpet, and chanterelle. Their quality, flavor, and amount of grit can vary considerably. Price is often a good guide as the pricier versions tend to be of higher quality and lower grit. Purchase your mushrooms from a reliable source or find a brand that you can rely on for quality. They will last a very long time – a year, if not more – if kept in a well-sealed container.

Dried mushrooms need to be reconstituted with water before you can use them, and this produces two wonderful things: the mushrooms themselves and their flavorful soaking liquid. Both can be used in soups, stews, sauces, pâtés, and gratins. Often dried mushrooms are used in conjunction with not-so-flavorful button mushrooms to give them a boost. Dried mushrooms add a rich, meaty, savory note and are high in umami.

Most recipes call for dried mushrooms to be measured in weight. Weigh the mushrooms, then place them in a bowl.

Cover generously with water and gently push on the mushrooms to submerge them into the water.

Soaking time will vary depending on the size and thickness of the mushrooms. Most thinly sliced mushrooms will be rehydrated in 20 to 30 minutes. Thicker and whole cap mushrooms may take a little longer — you can rush this a bit by soaking them in hot water. Mushrooms are ready to use when they have softened all the way through.

When the mushrooms are soft, lift them from the water using your fingers or a spoon, squeezing them lightly to remove as much water as possible.

Taste a mushroom. If you detect any grittiness, you’ll need to rinse them. Place the mushrooms in a strainer and run them under the faucet for several seconds, tossing them and making sure all the grit is gone. Your mushrooms are now ready for your recipe.

Place the strainer over the second bowl and line with a coffee filter or paper towel. Pour the soaking liquid into the strainer and allow it to drain through. Discard the filter. Use the soaking liquid in your recipe or store in the refrigerator in a covered container for about one week (or freeze for up to 3 months).

If you’re in a hurry, use warm or hot water to soak your mushrooms. Your mushrooms will soften more quickly, but more of their flavor will be extracted into the soaking water.