Roasted Red Pepper: My Favorite Mediterranean Pizza Topping

(photo by Mark Luinenburg)  If you’ve read any of our books, you know that this particularly photogenic fruit (or is it a vegetable?) seems to have captured our imagination.  After a year of perfecting the basic tomato/basil/mozzarella topping, I did (believe it or not) get tired of Pizza Margherita.  Enter the smoky and savory roasted red pepper.   Most people think if it as a pizza topping, sliced or roughly chopped, and I certainly use it that way, in place of mushrooms or other vegetable.  But it’s more versatile than that.  First, let’s quickly go through how to get this smoky, colorful result:

  1. Roast the red pepper:  Remove the seeds and core, then quarter the pepper so it can be flattened.  Char it under the broiler or on a gas or charcoal grill, with the skin side closest to the heat source.  Alternatively, you can roast the pepper whole on top of the stove, right over a gas flame, turning frequently so that it chars on all sides.  You are finished when the skin has mostly blackened (there can be some red areas).  With most heat sources, you’re done in less than 10 minutes.
  2. Drop the roasted pepper (or peppers) into a bowl or pan and cover, so that the pepper steams in its own heat, for about 10 minutes.
  3. Allow to cool so it can be handled, then hand-peel the pepper and discard the blackened skin.  Reserve the smoky brown liquid if you are making a sauce.

I use these a number of ways, in ajvar, a roasted red pepper and eggplant spread from Croatia (recipe in Artisan Pizza and Flatbread in 5), which is absolutely fantastic on hamburgers instead of ketchup.

But one of my favorites is a simple sauce that  you can use instead of tomato toppings on pizza.  Simply put a few roasted red peppers, with their juice, into the food processor and blend until almost smooth.  Reduce it a bit over medium heat if it’s too thin.  About two peppers and maybe a little salt makes enough sauce for a Pizza Margherita a la Peperone.  Smoked gouda makes a nice swap here for mozzarella.

Farewell to the mundane.  And soon, farewell to winter, despite Punxsutawney Phil’s recent prediction…


15 thoughts to “Roasted Red Pepper: My Favorite Mediterranean Pizza Topping”

  1. I’ve been doing roasted peppers on the open burner of my stove for years. When they are charred, I just put them in a paper bag and fold the top shut. After 20-15 minutes, they are soft and ready to use. Works great and no bowl to clean.

  2. HELP!!! I have the “Healthy Bread in Five Min A Day” and I haven’t advanced past the Master Recipe:( I am very new to bread baking and one of my friends recommended your books. My problem is the dough ends up looking and feeling like a mixture between oatmeal and cream of wheat. There is zero elasticity. On baking day I scoop some out and it isn’t stretchy like in the youtube video. It’s just clumpy. Tastes great but doesn’t rise much at all even with baking. I posted a couple links on my blog so you can look to see the finished product. The first time I did it I didn’t have a large enough bowl so I halved it and put it in two different bowls and the next time I did it all together. Any thoughts or tips would be GREATLY appreciated. I want to be able to get the hang of this!!!

    1. Sarah: For whatever reason (see below), it’s too wet. Just decrease the water (or increase the flours) until it looks like the video.

      Possible reasons:
      measuring wrong– see our video on that at
      bleached flour instead of unbleached
      Southern US very-soft flours, like White Lily
      Non-standard US flours. Do it with typical commercial US flours first (where are you writing from?)
      Using home-ground or other fresh ground wheat
      changing ANYTHING in the recipe (eg, leaving out VWG)

      1. I live in Nebraska so that isn’t too far south;) I do the scoop and sweep too but I have to admit I had some bleached flour left over I was trying to use up. Will that work at all? I know I should just throw it away b/c it’s kind of counter productive to put it in “healthy” bread but I hate to throw food away. Thanks for the tips, I will try less water or more flour and certainly buy some new unbleached flour, thanks again!!!

  3. I know I’m supposed to leave the lid loose when refrigerating the master dough, but I was wondering if I could either cut a slit or a hole in the lid so I could close it. Things jostle it and the lid has fallen completely off without anyone knowing…

      1. *fan squee* You’re actually talking to me! LOL

        Thanks! I’m off to modify my lid right now!

  4. When I roast peppers I put the roasted peppers in a ziplock bag and seal it up. After 20 minutes the reeve the skin by sliding my hands over the outside of the bag. It works really well. After I take the peppers out of the bag I pour in olive oil and mix it around. Let it steep a bit and then, voila! Roasted red pepper oil.

  5. I love roasted peppers in curries and that eggplant + bellpepper smoky goodness as a pizza sauce sounds amazing!

    We have been addicted to your doughs especially the challah dough and since I make that a lot I used it as a pizza base and we all love it- even threw a pizza party for some friends with it!

    Here is my pretty pizza in a skillet thanks to you 🙂

  6. I have just downloaded your pizza book and just made your pizza dough for throwing. The dough is very sticky. I will be cooking it in my wood fired pizza oven. Have you ever cooked your pizzas in this type of oven? I have had problems in the past (used Peter Rhienharts Artisian Breads Everyday) when the dough was very sticky. Do you have any tips.

    1. Hi Pam,

      I have baked in several wood fired pizza ovens and our dough works beautifully. The key to working with any dough, but especially a wet one, is to use plenty of flour when rolling it out. If the dough seems sticky at any point, add more flour. You also want to have all of your toppings ready to go, so the dough doesn’t sit on the peel for very long.

      Here is a post about working with wet dough:

      Hope this helps! Zoë

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