Jean Anderson's Sweet Red Pepper Paste (Massa de Pimentão)

September 15, 2011

Author Notes: Jean Anderson applies the magic of slow-roasting to a traditional Portuguese preserved red pepper sauce, in this genius recipe from her cookbook The Food of Portugal. Use it to marinate chicken or pork, sauce grilled fish and vegetables, and top pizzas and sandwiches. Genius Recipes

Serves: about 1 1/4 cups


  • 8 medium sweet red peppers, washed, cored, seeded and cut lengthwise into strips about 1" wide
  • 2 tablespoons coarse or kosher salt
  • 2 large garlic cloves, peeled and minced
  • 1/3 cup olive oil (about)
In This Recipe


  1. Arrange a layer of pepper strips in the bottom of a shallow bowl no more than 9 inches in diameter; sprinkle with 3/4 teaspoon of the salt; now add 7 more layers of pepper strips, sprinkling each with 3/4 teaspoon salt. Let stand uncovered at room temperature for at least 12 hours. Drain off excess liquid.
  2. Turn on the oven to its keep warm-setting (250º to 275º F.). Place the bowl of peppers, still uncovered, in the oven and roast 2 to 2 1/2 hours, stirring occasionally, until all juices have been absorbed, the peppers are soft, and the skin pulls away easily from the flesh. If you start to notice them drying out, cover them with foil for the remainder of the time. Remove and cool to room temperature. Now peel the skin from each pepper strip and discard. Place the garlic and the pepper strips in the work bowl of a food processor fitted with the metal blade, or in an electric blender cup, and add about half of the oil; buzz nonstop about 30 seconds, scrape down the sides, and buzz 30 seconds more. With the motor running, drizzle in enough of the remaining oil to make a paste slightly softer than whipped butter. Churn 60 seconds until absolutely smooth.
  3. Note: If you have neither food processor nor blender, you'll have to grind the garlic and peppers to paste as the Portuguese women do--with a mortar and pestle. You must then add the olive oil very slowly, drop by drop at first, beating hard to incorporate.
  4. Transfer to a small jar with a tight-fitting lid and store in the refrigerator. Allow to come to room temperature before serving.

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