Three Ways with Red Peppers

Chicken with Roasted Red Peppers and Goat Cheese Sauce

Last week, overwhelmed by my two big moves, my diet consisted of cereal, granola bars, corn chips and salsa, toast, and takeout. I didn’t even have the energy to make scrambled eggs. Even if I wanted to, I couldn’t because the only things lying in my fridge were a bottle of aforementioned salsa and two slices of cheese. I know, I know. As a food blogger I should be ashamed of myself. But I’m sure that even the best of us have days like these and they usually pass with no harm done (except for the extra weight on your hips and a lengthy call from your mother if she reads this).

Red Peppers

When I finally settled into the new place, the first thing I saw in the kitchen was the platter in this picture. And then I remembered that the Food52 theme for the week was Red Peppers. Since I know when to take a hint, I hiked to the nearest grocery store and bought an armload of peppers. Also, galvanized by the depressing look of my empty fridge and the leisure of ambling down the food aisles without the constraints of a shopping list, I bought a ton of other stuff accountable only to my whims and fancies. Well, let me tell you that my whims and fancies led me to a whopping grocery bill and 5 huge bags that I had to walk home with – in the rain. (It must have been quite a comical sight, in retrospect, with me pausing to put down my bags, every 20 paces or so and cursing all the way home.) But hey, my fridge is stocked and I’m eating healthy, good food again and that’s what counts. (See mom, nothing to worry about.)

Before going into the oven

Coming back to the peppers – I knew exactly what I wanted to do with them. Two years ago, I learnt the correct way to roast peppers from the wonderful Luisa over at The Wednesday Chef. And I agree with her – if you want roasted peppers that are sweet and silky versions of their former selves, you have to roast them long and slow in the oven, never over a gas flame. An hour in the oven and the firm peppers have become wrinkled, their skins blistered and charred in places. But don’t let that fool you – slip off the skin, remove the seeds and stalk and what you are left with are strips of soft, sweet peppers that are a welcome addition to any sandwich, pizza or pasta you’re making. I also love to have them simply drizzled with some olive oil, salt, pepper and some good crusty bread.

Red pepper after a date with my oven

On days when the weather turns cold outside and I’m looking forward to a morning of quiet puttering in the kitchen, I love to use the roasted peppers to make this chutney that I once saw Jamie Oliver make on TV. (I love how he makes cooking look fun and messy.) For this chutney, you caramelize onions on the stove top till they go soft and sticky. To this you add your beautiful roast peppers and other good things like cinnamon, rosemary and balsamic. When everything has melded together, you’ll be left with a heady aroma in your kitchen and a sweet and spicy chutney that you can store in the fridge and use as an adult ketchup on anything you please.

I couldn't resist the cross-hatch

This weekend, feeling particularly adventurous, I took out my jar of chutney and decided to turn it into a sauce for dinner. I heated the chutney with some goat cheese and when it was melted and bubbling, I added chicken that I had marinated with complementary flavors and some yogurt and olive oil. A good stir, some slow cooking on the stove top and I had an inspired dinner that definitely beat takeout. I think I may have redeemed myself, don’t you?

A beautiful dinner..

Roasted Peppers
Adapted from The Wednesday Chef

4 large bell peppers

1. Preheat the oven to 350⁰F (175⁰C).
2. Place the bell peppers on a baking sheet lined with aluminium foil. Roast in the oven for an hour, turning over the peppers after 20 mins each. (Careful, the peppers are hot. Using the stalks to turn them over helps.) After an hour, the peppers will be wrinkled and slumped over.
3. Allow the peppers to cool for at least 30 mins. (Before this, they will be too hot to handle.) Cut a slit in the peppers and discard the stalk, seeds and any juice. Peel off the skin (it should come off easily).
4. Cut the peppers in strips and use use them in everything from sandwiches to pizzas to pasta or have them simply drizzled with some olive oil, salt, pepper and some good crusty bread.

Roasted Red Pepper Chutney
Adapted from Cheeky Chilli-Pepper Chutney – Jamie Oliver

4 large red peppers, roasted as directed above
1 medium red onion
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 bay leaf
1 sprig fresh rosemary leaves, snipped
Salt and pepper, to taste
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon powdered mace
1/2 teaspoon red paprika/chilli powder (or as per taste)

1. Chop the roasted red peppers. (Alternatively, pulverize in a food processor based on your preference. I like it chopped so the chutney has texture.)
2. Peel and finely chop the onion. Heat olive oil in a pan on medium heat. Add the onions, bay leaf, and rosemary and season lightly with salt and pepper. Cook over low heat until the onions are soft and sticky, about 25 mins. Stir occasionally and make sure the onions don’t burn.
3. Add the roasted red peppers, balsamic vinegar, brown sugar, cinnamon, mace and paprika and mix well. Cook until the liquid evaporates and you’re left with a sweet and spicy chutney. Check and adjust the seasoning. Store the chutney in the fridge and use in sandwiches, gravies or as an adult ketchup on anything you please. (The chutney lasts for a few days in the fridge. Store in sterilized jars if you would like it to last longer.)

Chicken with Roasted Pepper and Goat Cheese Sauce

1 pound boneless chicken (I prefer the thigh meat but you can use what you like)
6 tablespoons yogurt
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 sprig fresh rosemary leaves, snipped
1/2 teaspoon coriander powder
1/2 teaspoon cumin powder
Salt and pepper, to taste
Roasted red pepper chutney, prepared as directed above
2 ounces fresh goat cheese

1. Mix together the yogurt, olive oil, rosemary, coriander and cumin. Season the chicken with salt and pepper and marinate in the above mixture, refrigerated for an hour.
2. Make the red pepper chutney as directed in the recipe above.
3. Add goat cheese to the chutney in the pan and mix well over medium heat.
4. Add the chicken pieces coated with marinade. Discard any extra marinade. Mix well.
5. Cover the pan and cook the chicken over medium-low heat for about 20-25 minutes.
6. Uncover the pan and continue cooking over medium heat until the chicken is cooked through, the excess liquid evaporates and the sauce thickens and coats the chicken. Check and adjust seasoning and discard the bay leaf. Serve with good, crusty bread or grilled flatbread and a green salad.

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10 Responses to Three Ways with Red Peppers

  1. Love that roasted pepper and goat cheese sauce :) Great recipes…

  2. Anna says:

    Loved the sauce, it’s light and delicious, looks great too. Have a great weekend.

  3. Kori says:

    Beautiful photos! I love peppers :)

  4. Mmmm, everything looks so tasty! Great photos!

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