Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Broccoli with Roasted Pepper and Walnut Sauce

As is to be expected, there were a few things in my freezer that I overlooked when I made my list here. So what better way to kick off Operation Freezer Burn (clever, huh?) than to start with an item that wasn’t even on the list?

A couple of weeks before Christmas I bought some red and orange peppers. I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do with them so I decided to roast them, and then see what inspiration came out of that process. As they were roasting I decided to make my own adaptation of the muhammara I made as part of my review of Spice: Flavors of the Eastern Mediterranean by Ana Sortun for the Wellfed Network. But instead of eating it with bread, I thought I would make something that would go with pasta.

In all honesty, I can’t remember exactly what I put into it. I know I used the roasted peppers, dried crushed aleppo chilies, and walnuts. I did not use any bread crumbs because I did not want to bind the sauce. I probably added garlic because I always add garlic. Salt and pepper to taste and that may have been it.

It made a lot. About a quart. More than I needed for a pasta dish. So I poured half into a jar and stuck it in the freezer. I added about 1/2 cup of fresh grated Pecorino Romano to the other half, and then added it to whole wheat cavatappi, a la pesto.

The end result was less than favorable. Which is why there is neither a photo of it nor a post about it. Without oil it did not coat the pasta the way pesto does, and the way I expected I to. And I think I just solved the problem of why it didn’t work. Maybe I will have to try it again, using some olive oil in addition to the cheese. The flavor of the pepper sauce was good, it just didn’t work with the pasta.

After I made my list of what was in the freezer and posted my project to use up everything that was in it at the time, I discovered that I had overlooked the roasted pepper sauce, in addition to cacao nibs and some smoked sun-dried tomatoes my sister picked up for me outside of Austin after I saw them on the FoodTV Network.

I thought it would be nice to find some other use for the roasted pepper sauce than to put it on pasta. When I was testing recipes from the 12 Best Foods Cookbook for Fitfare, I was especially pleased with the Tomato Broccoli recipe, and thought it might be interesting to try something similar with the roasted peppers.

It worked really well. The roasted peppers, aleppo chilies, walnuts and broccoli blend well with each other. This would go well with almost any meat or fish dish.

Broccoli with Roasted Pepper and Walnut Sauce

2 Red or Orange Bell Peppers
1/4 cup toasted walnuts
1 tsp Aleppo or other red chili flakes
1-2 cloves garlic
Salt and pepper to taste
1 lb. broccoli, cut into spears

Put everything in the food processor and blend until smooth. Transfer to a small saucepan and, over low heat, bring to a simmer. Simmer until most of the liquid has been cooked out.

While the pepper sauce is simmering, prepare the broccoli the way that you like it (I blanched it for four minutes, then steamed it for ten minutes).

Pour the sauce over the broccoli and serve.

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