4 large red bell peppers, about 2 pounds
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1. Preheat the oven to 500 degrees Fahrenheit. 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 minutes.
2. Fold the foil over the peppers and allow them to cool. Work over a bowl and remove the core, skin, and seeds from each of the peppers, reserving some of the liquid.
3. Place the pepper pulp 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. Store, well covered, in the refrigerator (for several days) or the freezer (up to a month).
10 Simple Uses for Red Pepper Purée
Add a couple of tablespoons to the cooking liquid of any simmering grain - rice, couscous, or quinoa, for example. The color is glorious.
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.
Mark Bittman is the author of the New York Times column The Minimalist Cook.
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