Tag Archives: peppers

Recipe: Roast Pumpkin, Pepper and Tomato Soup

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Ah, late summer (or early autumn depending on your point of view), when the pumpkins and squashes hit the veg boxes and I wonder what I’m going to do with them. Let’s get the obvious one out of the way first – soup! Pumpkins (like their cousins, courgettes) make great soup. They blend to a wonderful smooth, creamy texture and they add a background sweetness that never really overpowers anything they’re in.

This recipe calls for roast pumpkin and if you’re going to put the oven on to roast one vegetable, you may as well roast a few at the same time. Unusually for me, this is a more liquid soup, rather than the thicker ones which are my forte.

Roast Pumpkin and Pepper Soup photo DSCN1708_zps3aa25382.jpg

Ingredients
1 small pumpkin, deseeded and sliced
2 red peppers
4 tomatoes, halved
2 tbsp olive oil
1 red onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, chopped
1 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp smoked paprika
1 litre vegetable stock
Harissa paste
Lemon juice

Pre-heat the oven to 180C.
Put the pumpkin pieces, peppers and tomatoes on a shallow roasting tin, drizzle with the olive oil and sprinkled with black pepper.
Bake for 45 minutes until they are all charred round the edges and the pepper skins are blackened.
Remove from the oven and let cool.
When cool enough to handle, remove the skins from the tomatoes and pumpkin pieces and the skins and seeds from the peppers.
Heat a little oil in a large saucepan.
Sweat the onion and garlic until they are softened and translucent.
Stir in the coriander, cumin and paprika.
Now add the tomatoes, pumpkin pieces and peppers to the saucepan.
Pour over any of the juices from the roasting tin.
Pour over the vegetable stock.
Season with salt and pepper.
Bring to temperature and simmer, covered, for 30 minutes.
Remove from the heat and blend to a smooth consistency.
Check for seasoning and serve with a little drizzle of harissa paste and a squeeze of lemon juice.

Serves 4

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Recipe: Vegetarian Piedmontese Peppers

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There was a time in the mid-late 90s when this roasted pepper dish was ubiquitous at British dinner parties. It featured in St Delia’s Summer Collection TV series and book, but I don’t think that’s why it was so popular. It’s because it’s a simple, delicious recipe with great flavours and is very forgiving as a starter. You can prepare it well in advance. If the guests are late an extra ten minutes in the oven will not mar it, or you can take it out and it will taste just as good cold as hot and every temperature in between. It featured in the first dinner party I ever gave.

It’s taken me a while to post this recipe, principally because I needed to find a substitute for the anchovies that pack such an umami punch in the original. I decided to use a mixture of capers and olives a la grecque and they work very well indeed. If you can’t get olives a la grecque then black olives would do, but you’d have to add some salt before cooking.

I don’t normally use extra virgin olive oil in cooking, but this is one time where you want your best ingredients. It’s not one for a low-fat diet, either I’m afraid. I have tried it without the oil and it just doesn’t work.

Piedmontese Peppers photo DSCN1682_zps2fd354cf.jpg

Ingredients
2 red peppers
2 medium tomatoes, skinned and halved
4 olives a la grecque, chopped
1 tbsp capers, chopped
1 fat clove of garlic, sliced
8 tsp extra virgin olive oil
black pepper
4 basil leaves

Heat the oven to 180C.
Take each pepper and cut in half lengthwise through the stalk.
Keep the stalk on each half, but scoop out the seeds and white pith.
Put the halved peppers in a shallow roasting tin, cut side up.
Divide the tomatoes, olives, capers, garlic and olive oil into four and fill each half pepper.
Sprinkle with black pepper, but no salt if you’re using olives a la grecque
Put in the oven and roast for 45-60 mins, checking after 45 mins to make sure they’re not burning or going dry.
Serve with a basil leaf on each half with the juices poured over.

Serves 2 as a starter with plenty of crusty bread to mop up the juices

Recipe: Summer Hand Rolls with Mango and Peanut Sauce

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I love spring rolls, but they’re not the healthiest of options as they’re deep fried. Summer rolls, hold no such worries and, with a supply of rice paper wrappers (available at bigger supermarkets) are easy to make at home.

Allegedly.

Actually, making them at home makes you realise how mean the filling has to be if you want the rolls to close properly. And you have to have pretty good origami skills to make them. This has tended to put me off making them. Then I found a picture of summer rolls that were open at one end. They looked a lot easier to make (just as sushi hand rolls take a lot of the terror out of making sushi at home) and were just so fresh and vibrant that I had to give them a go.

The fillings for the rolls are what I had in the fridge at the time, so use the recipe as a guideline rather than a fixed standard. If you didn’t have mango for the dipping sauce, a ripe peach or nectarine would do just as well. If you don’t want to make rolls, the sauce would be great with a plate of crudités.

Summer Hand Rolls photo DSCN1671_zps77bd5306.jpg

Ingredients
For the dipping sauce:
1/2 mango, finely chopped
2 tbsp peanut butter
1 tbps vinegar (wine or cider)
1 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp coriander, finely chopped
1 birdseye chilli, chopped
1 tsp sesame oil

For the rolls
4 rice paper spring/summer roll wrappers
1/2 medium carrot, chopped into matchsticks
1/2 yellow pepper, thinly sliced
Handful of watercress
5cm piece of cucumber, deseeded and thinly sliced
1/2 avocado, sliced
6 mangetout, sliced
1 stem of mint leaves, roughly chopped

Put all the dipping sauce ingredients in a bowl and mix thoroughly.

Half-fill a wide bowl or deep plate with hand-hot water.
Dip a rice paper wrapper in the water and hold for a few seconds until it starts to go a little flexible.
Remove the wrapper from the water and put on a clean surface.
Place a few of each of the vegetables in the centre.
Fold over three sides of the wrapper leaving one side open.
Repeat for each of the other wrappers.
Serve alongside the dipping sauce.

Serves 2 as a starter (but not at an elegant meal!)

Recipe: Roasted Red Pepper and Red Onion Salad

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You might get to the ingredients list of this recipe and wonder if I’ve mistyped it. I promise you I haven’t. That is 2 tablespoons of vinegar to 2 teaspoons of olive oil. That’s because, when the onions and peppers are roasted together like this, they go incredibly sweet and you need the acidity to cut through that sweetness. I used vinegar here, but the juice of a lemon would be great too.

This is a good recipe for use up any red (or other coloured) peppers that are beginning to go a bit wrinkly in places. Note I haven’t removed the skin. The idea isn’t to roast them to the stage of blackened skin, but just to soften the flesh and toast them a bit.

Ingredients
2 red peppers, deseeded and chopped into large pieces
4-6 red onions, peeled and quartered
2 tbsp oil
2 tbsp wine vinegar
2 tsp olive oil
2 tbsp capers, chopped

Pre heat the oven to 220C.

Put the vegetables on a roasting tray, rub with the 2 tbsp of vegetable oil and season well with salt and pepper.

Roast for 30 minutes until the vegetables are cooked and a little brown round the edges.
In a large bowl, mix the vinegar, olive oil and capers together and season with salt and pepper.
When the vegetables are cooked put them in the bowl with the dressing. Toss in the dressing until all the vegetables are coated.

Serves 2 with some nice green leaves for crunch

Recipe: Pasta with chargrilled peppers, pine nuts and feta

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I’m a fairly unpicky vegetarian, but I do draw the line at sun-dried tomatoes. After all, who wants to eat shoe leather? At one point it was all you ever seemed to find on restaurant menus. Now goat’s cheese is the new black (and at least edible!)

So I adapted this recipe from one a friend used to make. Come to think of it, her version had broccoli in as well as sun-dried tomatoes. I love broccoli, but oddly enough, not with pasta very much. So I went off and started fiddling.

I’m always on the look-out for dryer pasta sauces, given I’m not fussed about creamy ones, and sometimes get a bit bored with tomato-based sauces.

I like peppers a lot. I was a lazy minx and used half a jar of chargrilled peppers that I happened to have in the cupboard. And some of the oil from them loosened up the final dish.

If you’re vegan, you could certainly put the broccoli back in and omit the feta.

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Method 

Serves 2

Clove of garlic, chopped finely

Small red chilli, chopped finely

Tbsp of toasted pine nuts

Chargrilled red and yellow peppers, cut into bite-sized chunks

Feta cheese

Black pepper

Penne pasta

 

Cook the pasta. Meanwhile, toast the pine nuts in a dry pan. Once they’re done, set them aside and add a dash of olive oil to the pan. Warm the garlic and red chilli through, but don’t let them colour. It’s up to you whether you warm the peppers through as well, or whether you use them straight from the jar. I tend to warm them slightly. Crumble the feta, then add everything to the pasta and mix well. Serve with plenty of black pepper.

Recipe: Sauce Romesco with Tenderstem Broccoli

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Yes, you read that right – the sauce is definitely the star with this recipe!

For what is a simple recipe, this has a bit of complicated origin for me. It all started with a review of Drakes Tabanco by Jay Rayner in The Observer. In it he wished that the restaurant had paired a dish of romesco sauce with something more thrilling than tenderstem broccoli. Well, I disagree. Romesco sauce packs a hefty punch and I think something green and irony is just what is needed to stand up to it. Tenderstem broccoli does just the thing. Broccoli of any type would do, but so would kale, savoy cabbage or spinach. Blanch the greens, stir through the romesco and you have a dish that should be thrilling enough for anyone. I’m sorry, Jay, but we’re not letting the meat-eaters keep this sauce to themselves.

And besides – look how pretty it looks! Prettier than any meat you could pair with this.

 photo SauceRomesco_zps8ffbbf2d.jpg

Ingredients
For the sauce:
2 red peppers, grilled and skinned
75g ground almonds
15g breadcrumbs
2 cloves garlic
1/2 tsp smoked paprika
2 tbsp vinegar
80ml olive oil
squeeze lemon juice

Pack of tender-stem broccoli

Put the peppers under a hot grill until their skin is blackened on both sides.
Remove the skins and seeds.
Put the pepper flesh with the rest of the sauce ingredients into a food processor and whizz until you have a smooth paste.
Season with salt and pepper.
Cook the broccoli in plenty of salted water until just tender.
Drain the broccoli and serve with the sauce spooned over.

Serves 4 as a starter

Recipe: Pepper Sandwich

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I don’t know about you, but I rarely think about cooking something to go in a sandwich. Sandwiches are, for me, something that is made from cold ingredients and leftovers. But I was inspired by finding out there was such a thing as a Chicago Pepper and Egg Sandwich. It sounded unlikely coming from one of the big meat-packing cities of the USA, but apparently it is a thing.

Problem was, when I came to make it, I didn’t have any eggs to hand. But I didn’t let that stop me. This is a nice, juicy sandwich filling. If you wanted to make it more substantial you could spread some hummus on the bread before adding the fried peppers.

Peppers Sandwich photo DSCN0966_zps52ca03ec.jpg

Ingredients
2 peppers (mixed colours best), sliced
1 red onion, thinly sliced
1 clove garlic, crushed
1/2 tsp smoked paprika
1/2 lemon, juiced
1 baguette

Heat some oil in a frying pan and add the peppers and onion.
Cook gently on a low to medium heat until the peppers are softened and slightly blackened.
Add the garlic and the smoked paprika and cook through for another five minutes.
Season with salt and pepper.
Serve on a split baguette with a squirt of lemon juice over the top.

Serves 2