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16 May 2014
I never used to like bell peppers.  I consider myself to be a pretty omnivorous (and passionately so) person so I don’t like to let myself fall too easily into food prejudice.  I just, try as I might, could not get into bell peppers’ bright crunch.  I would assiduously pick them out of pizzas and salads, and would poke at them morosely when I would spot them in an omelet, their crunch unfazed by the brief stint in the skillet.  I know they are wonderful and beloved by many, but for me, unfortunately, the attraction was just not there.

That is, until the first time I had them roasted.  Roasting turns the capsicum into a luscious and mellowed version of its formerly peppy self.  The slow deliberate heat renders them sweetly smoky, and in my book, much more appealing.  This I could eat by the truckload…and from the very first time I roasted a pepper, I have been doing so (ok, maybe not a truckload…more like a small SUV portion).

Roasting (and peeling) peppers is one of the easiest things you can do in your kitchen.  It is also immensely rewarding – not just because the peppers you roast yourself will taste so much better than anything you buy in a bottle (and it will…oh how it will!), but also because there is nothing quite so satisfying as successfully peeling the charred skin off a pepper in one whole piece (akin to getting a chestnut out of its shell whole).  Any way you look at it home roasted red peppers are a winner.

I like to buy a bunch of peppers at the market when they are looking really red, shiny, and tempting.  Just the red ones mostly, sometimes the orange and yellows, never the greens.  No matter what you do to them, there is no saving the green peppers for me.  Anyway.  I like to roast them as described below and then stuff them in a jar topped with olive oil.  I keep the jar in the fridge and use the peppers throughout the week, and let me tell you, it is an absolute godsend.  You can use them in salads, sandwiches, pastas, stews, as part of an antipasti platter when you have the neighbors over for drinks…

And in this spread.

Roasted Red Pepper and Goat Cheese Spread

3 red peppers (about 400 grams in total)
150 grams goat cheese
Extra virgin olive oil
Freshly cracked black pepper
Optional: pesto, basil oil, pine nuts

- Slice each pepper lengthways into quarters, removing the stem and the seeds.  Lay the peppers skin side up on a parchment-lined baking sheet and roast in an oven with the broiler on.  You want high heat from above to char the skin and I’ve found this is my favorite way to do it.
- When the peppers’ skins are blackened, this could take anywhere from 15-20 minutes (less if your broiler is strong so be vigilant and don’t go wandering off!), take them out of the oven and immediately transfer them to a bowl and cover tightly with clingfilm, taking care to make an airtight seal.  When the peppers are cool enough to handle, remove the clingfilm and peel the charred skin of the peppers.  The skin will slide off easily.
- Place the cooled and peeled peppers together with the goat cheese, a drizzle of olive oil, and some freshly cracked black pepper in a food processor and blitz until smooth.
- Transfer the mixture into a crock or a bowl and drizzle with pesto or basil oil, and sprinkle with pine nuts.

Not only is this a delicious way to use roasted peppers, this is also a really versatile spread to have around.  Since I’ve made this I’ve already use it in everything from simply slathering on crackers to splodged on some roasted eggplant (with a chickpea salad on the side).  I’ve also used it with these chickpeas, stuffing both into a pita (from a new vendor I tried at the Legazpi Sunday market) with some torn basil tucked in.

You don’t need to add the pesto or pine nuts but they really make a good accent, so I’ve added them as optional here.  But really all you need are the peppers and the goat cheese and you are good to go.  I’ve used Malagos chevre here.  Malagos is a lovely local cheese maker with some really great cheeses under their belt.  Their cherve is one of my favorites, along with their Blue Pepato.  I absolutely love that we have some awesome artisan cheesemakers on our shores and I highly encourage supporting them!

It’s now Sunday night and I’ve spent a fantastic weekend with family and neighbors and friends.  Simple times, but wonderful times.  And a lot of the time…that is the very best kind.  Hope you spent yours in a likewise fashion!


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