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A different kind of pesto

Basil, pine nuts, olive oil and cheese might be the traditional pesto ingredients but there are countless pesto combinations – parsley-walnut, watercress-almond, mint-pistachio and cilantro-sesame, using toasted sesame seeds instead of nuts.

This recipe takes advantage of sweet and tangy roasted red peppers and added the traditional basil, pine nuts, garlic and cheese. What’s missing is all the extra oil. It is not needed because the peppers are so moist. Traditional basil pesto has about 75 calories and 7 grams of fat per tablespoon. This red-pepper version has just 14 calories and less than 1 gram of fat per tablespoon. Pile it on!

Try this pesto over grilled or roasted chicken, fish, shellfish, pork and steak. You can even use it as a sandwich spread or condiment on a cheese-and-cracker tray.

Recipe from “Robin Rescues Dinner,” by Robin Miller.

Roasted Red-Pepper Pesto

3 tablespoons pine nuts

2 cups sliced roasted red peppers

1/2 cup packed fresh basil leaves

2 cloves garlic

2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese

2 tablespoons water, or more as needed

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Place the pine nuts in a small dry skillet and set the pan over medium heat. Cook 3 to 5 minutes, until the nuts are golden brown, shaking the pan frequently to prevent burning.

Transfer the pine nuts to a blender and add the red peppers, basil, garlic, cheese and 2 tablespoons of the water. Process until smooth and thick, adding more water if necessary to create a thick paste. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Makes 1 1/2 cups.

– Scripps Howard News Service