Everyone has their one food they don’t like and if they don’t, well they are just super human and I have utmost respect for them. I have lived my whole life disliking capsicums, which, as a vegetarian is slightly frustrating not only for myself but for every waiter that has had to make my dish capsicum-free.
I have been reading AA Gill’s very hilarious travel stories in ‘Here & There’ and took special note of a chapter that he dedicates to eating ‘exotic’ foods. He lists white flying termites, scorpions, armadillo, African frog and flying ants as bearable and looks forward to any encounter with the fruit, durian. So, if AA Gill can describe durian as tasting of garlic, wine gums and rotting liver and still enjoy it, then I can very well eat the unassuming capsicum. In my quest to overcome this hatred, I started by trying to eat the vegetable in its raw, cooked and baked form, every day for two weeks and low and behold, it slowly worked! Whilst I still can’t stomach raw green capsicum, I definitely can eat capsicum in any dish now and in fact I have fallen in love with roasted capsicum!
I would love to hear if you have any food dislikes and if so, have you overcome them? Please feel free to share any methods, techniques or even meals which have changed your perception of a particular ingredient. I could do with some tips on how to get over the raw green capsicum hurdle…
To celebrate this new food to my palate, I have decided to make a capsicum pesto pasta dish. This meal is a great alternative to the traditional pesto and is such a great celebration of this beautiful vegetable.
Capsicum Pesto with Tortiglioni
(Preparation time: 30 minutes, cooking time: 10 minutes)
3 large red capsicums
¼ cup olive oil
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 tsp paprika
1 dried chilli
¼ cup almonds, roasted
¼ cup fresh coriander, roughly chopped
Place the 3 capsicums on a baking tray and roast at 240 degrees celsius for 15-20 minutes or until the skins are blackened and blistery. Take them out of the oven and cool for 10 minutes with a tea towel or place in a plastic bag so that the capsicums sweat and are easy to peel.
Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a small pan and gently sauté the garlic cloves, paprika and the whole chilli. Once the garlic is beginning to colour, take the pan off the heat (careful not to burn the garlic and paprika as this will ruin the whole dish). Remove the chilli and place oil/garlic/paprika mixture in a blender.
Remove the skin and seeds of the capsicums, saving any juices. Add the flesh and juices to the oil mixture in the blender along with the roasted almonds. Season with salt and pepper and blend to a puree.
Cook any variety of pasta you desire (I used tortiglioni) and once cooked mix in with the pesto with some extra olive oil if needed. Any remaining pesto can be stored in the fridge and enjoyed later! :)