Look What I Made: Charred Poblano Pesto Recipe

Charred poblano pesto (photos by Travis Awalt)

It’s July. Summer is real. The silver lining: fresh peppers abound.

Also, in spite of the heat, my (Thai) basil plants are thriving.

Poblano pesto was an easy call.

This recipe is a summertime nod to the most basic pesto formula — basil or other herbs, nuts or seeds, oil, salty cheese and garlic — and, as such, is easily adapted to any taste or season.

Now do the pesto jump.

Charred Poblano Pesto

(makes about 3/4 cup)


Fresh basil and poblano make a summer pesto

Half a poblano pepper, charred (grilled, broiled or charred over the flame of a gas stove) and chopped

1 cup rinsed basil leaves

1/2 cup pine nuts

1/3 cup olive oil, or more

3 Tbsp cotija cheese*

Tbsp lemon or lime juice

1 clove peeled garlic

salt to taste.


1. Combine all ingredients, except half of the olive oil, in food processor (a stick blender with a mini food processor attachment works perfect for this amount). Blend until the mixture is just starting to become smooth.

2. Add the rest of the olive oil . Blend until smooth, using less oil if you like a thick pesto, more oil if you like it runnier. Taste and adjust salt if needed.

3. That’s it. Have a cocktail and pretend this was exhausting. Serve with bread, rice, pizza, pasta or carb of your choice.

*I went with a less pungent alternative to Parmesan cheese here to give the pepper more of a starring role.