Fall has arrived and that gets me thinking about harvesting my basil for pesto. I've been really concentrating on buying my produce from local farm stands but yesterday at the grocery store I found red peppers in the "slightly used" section, as my mother used to call it. I don't like to buy produce already wrapped (I want to pick the three peppers I WANT not the three they want to package together) but this was different.
The price was about $1 a pound for these beauties. I bought about 9# of red peppers with the idea of roasting them and making puree to freeze. When I got them home I was surprised that they weren't really in bad shape. Some would have still been salad quality.
I've always roasted peppers over the gas grill but I recently found a recipe for doing it in the oven. So here's the directions and how mine turned out.
1. Preheat the oven to 500 degrees. Line a roasting pan with enough foil to later fold over the top. Place the peppers in the pan and the pan in the oven. Roast, turning the peppers about every 10 minutes, until the peppers collapse, about 40-50 minutes.
2. Fold the foil over the peppers and allow them to cool. Remove the core, skin, and seeds from each of the peppers, reserving some of the liquid. I just put the peppers into a colander with a bowl below it to catch the liquid.
3. Place the pepper slices in the container of a food processor with about 2 tablespoons of the reserved liquid. Add a large pinch of salt and turn on the machine; drizzle the oil in through the feed tube. Stop the machine, then taste and add more salt and/or olive oil if necessary.
After doing the batch in the pictures, I also roasted a few on the grill after cutting the tops off and coring them. I put them into a big paper bag to cool before peeling. I still like that way better but if you don't have a grill handy or just want to do it in the house, the oven worked fine. Next time I could core them first before putting them into the oven.
From my 9# of peppers I got about 2 1/2 quarts of puree.
- Add a couple of tablespoons to the cooking liquid of any simmering grain - rice, couscous, or quinoa, for example.
- Use in place of or with tomatoes in pasta sauce. For example, saute several vegetables and bind them with purée during the last minute of cooking.
- Fold into omelets or scrambled eggs, with or without cooked vegetables.
- Combine with basil, grated Parmesan, and garlic for a pesto-like pasta sauce.
- Emulsify with lemon juice, salt, and pepper to make a beautiful salad dressing.
- Spread on crostini, bruschetta, or pizza before baking.
- Use as a finishing sauce for roasted eggplant, zucchini, or other vegetables.
- Serve as a condiment with grilled or roasted fish, meat, or chicken.
- Stir into soups or stews just before serving.
- Mash a couple of tablespoons of purée with a little olive oil, minced garlic, and cracked black pepper, into fresh, salty cheese - such as feta or goat - to make a dip for bread or vegetables.
Here's what I ended up with.
You will see that I use all sorts of glass jars recycled from my kitchen. I know I could use canning jars and I have boxes of them but I like to freeze different portions and this just works well for me.