A couple of weeks ago I told you about a great book I read called Food Matters by Mark Bittman and how it changed the way I eat (for a refresher on the book and it’s premise click here). Then a few weeks later, upon reading a blog I subscribe to called The Faux Martha I learned about a new blog called The Food Matters Project. It’s essentially a recipe swap from Bittman’s new cook book The Food Matters Cook Book: 500 Revolutionary Recipes for Better Living, the follow-up to his eye-opening read. The way it works is, each week a host is selected from the group of participants from the project. The host shares the original recipe and their interpretation, variation or inspiration. The rest of the contributors add their own adaptations of Bittman’s recipes by posting them on their own blog and then sharing a link to their recipes on The Food Matters Project blog. In the end, you have countless variations, insights and techniques to one already fantastic recipe. But most importantly, you have a project that encourages a way of eating that is more healthy and sustainable; something that I’m a full supporter of.
I’m a bit of a late joiner to the project and missed the first two weeks. To see these recipes click on the following links: week 1 Chipotle-Glazed Squash Skewers and week 2 Seasoned Popcorn. This week’s recipe is Roasted Red Pepper and Walnut Pesto. This pesto rocks! It’s mildly smokey flavour from the roasted red peppers pairs so wonderfully with the sweet basil and pungent garlic. This robust flavour profile is rounded off with the buttery nuttiness of the walnuts, that also lends a nice texture to this pesto. It’s such a versatile sauce and can be used on so many different ingredients. I’ve already used it thickly smeared in a grilled cheese sandwich with goat cheese, Fontina and Asiago on slices of buttered roasted garlic boule. I whipped it up into a dip for vegetable crudités with chick peas and Parmigiano-Reggiano. There really is no limit on how you can use this pesto.
In Bittman’s foreword to this recipe, he suggests to roast your own red peppers and I couldn’t agree more. I’ve been roasting my own peppers for the last few summers now. I purchase the peppers by the bushel in late August. early September and spend a weekend outside on the deck, roasting peppers on the barbecue, peeling off the charred skins and then packaging them up in freezer bags to be used throughout the year. It’s a great way to save some money on an ingredient that can cost at least $5.00 for a small jar (I paid around $15 to $20 for a whole bushel and probably made 12 jars worth). Plus, you’re using peppers that are in season and at the peak of their freshness, lending a fantastic roasted pepper.
In my variation of this recipe I wanted to show you just how versatile pesto can be. You don’t have to just eat this with pasta, but mind you pesto pasta is to die for! If you don’t like sweet potatoes, use russet potatoes, or any baking potato. I wanted to stick with the philosophy of Food Matters and choose ingredients that are better for you. The pesto compliments the sweetness of the potato, while the crumbled goat cheese and fresh dill adds a tangy note that brightens up the dish. Regardless on how you decide to use your pesto, this recipe is one that is delicious, healthy and one you will keep on coming back to.
Twice Baked Sweet Potatoes with Roasted Red Pepper and Walnut Pesto
Serves 2 as a side
2 sweet potatoes
1 Tbsp olive oil
3 Tbsps prepared roasted red pepper and walnut pesto
2 Tbsps chopped fresh dill
1/4 cup crumbled goat cheese
Salt and pepper
Preheat oven to 400 F. Wash and dry potatoes thoroughly. Rub with olive oil and sprinkle with salt. Roast in oven until tender.
When the potatoes have cooled enough to handle, slice off the top of the potato, lengthwise. Scoop out the centres out in a bowl. Combine pesto, dill, salt and pepper. Gently, fold in the goat cheese (you don’t want to fully incorporate the cheese, but have little morsels of cheese throughout the mixture). Spoon the potato mixture back into its skins and bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until the potatoes are warmed through and the goat cheese begins to melt. Serve immediately.