Red Bell Pepper Sauce(s)
A little while ago, I had half a roasted red pepper left over from another recipe and I decided to use it in a simple vinaigrette. It turned out very nicely and so I decided to make a basic Red Bell Pepper Sauce that could be extended with additional ingredients as needed and thus used in a variety of different ways (hence the use of the word ‘sauces’ in the title). Today, I am going to show you the general method and illustrate its versatility with some pictures of a few of ways I employed the batch I made… [
All you need to make a basic sauce is pre-Roasted (and peeled) Red Bell Peppers (obviously), Some Garlic (about 2 – 3 cloves per pepper), Salt (about a pinch per pepper) and roughly one-quarter to one-third a cup of oil for each pepper (depending on size).
For the oil, you could use good quality Olive Oil if you are pretty sure all subsequent uses will be for Mediterranean dishes but, for greatest flexibility, it is better if you use a neutral tasting oil (I used Peanut Oil here).
To roast and peel your peppers, you can follow the method I used in a post from September 2014 entitled ‘Roasting Red Peppers’. However, if, as is the case with me right now, you do not have access to an outdoor grill, you can use the oven. In the above picture, you can see how I arranged my peppers on a skewer and then baked them at 55 degrees for about 15 minutes or so. Putting them on a skewer helps roast them evenly and avoids overcooking where the surface might otherwise be in contact with hot metal.
When you come to peel the peppers, you don’t have to be too finicky about it as you do when, say, making strips of roasted pepper for an antipasto. Get as much off as you can but don’t worry too much as the sauce will eventually be passed through a strainer to remove some of the ‘bits’.
When I made the vinaigrette with the leftover red pepper I mentions above, I also used garlic but, on that occasion, I used raw cloves and it left a slightly harsh taste. Accordingly, I recommend you lightly sauté the (smashed) cloves in a little oil until soft. They can then be added to the sauce mix with the oil used in the pan.
Now all you need do is process the pepper pieces along with the garlic and salt, adding oil as you go until a smooth sauce is obtained. You may need to process your peppers in batches (as I did) depending on the size of your processor. In the above picture, I was about halfway through processing and the sauce got a little smoother than you see here.
Finally, you can do a final processing through a strainer to produce a very ‘creamy’ result. You need to work the batch through the strainer using a spoon so that just a little pulp remains. In this case, the three peppers I used resulted in just a little over a cup of finished sauce.
The first application for my sauce was in another ‘vinaigrette’ salad dressing. Here, I added a dash of vinegar and some chopped capers to the basic sauce and served it over some cucumber batons with a bit of Feta Cheese on top.
The red peppers also make as good a sauce for pasta as do tomatoes. In this case, I added some boiled spaghetti to a pan with enough sauce to be absorbed by and coat the pasta strands, and then finished the dish with chopped black olives and Basil cut chiffonade style. Naturally, I topped everything with some grated Parmesan.
Finally, I used the plain sauce as the base for a reduction to go along with seared scallops. After frying the scallops, I deglazed the pan with the liquor from the scallops, a little dry sherry, and then the pepper sauce. I let this reduce until thickened and then served the scallops in a pool of the finished sauce.