Roasted red pepper dip
I recently ate an incredible and authentic Turkish meal at Tuba in San Francisco - I was blown away by their gorgeous use of spice in every dish. The vegetarian appetizer platter has so many gorgeous dips and spreads, each so beautifully seasoned - I was in awe. I paid little attention to my husband and the other couple who joined us (sorry! love you guys! but love food the most.), as I took in the aromas of each dip and tried my best to suss out each spice with every bite. My favorite was by far a beautiful red dip, that was extra spicy, exploding with cumin, and full of flavor. When I went to the market yesterday, it is so rare for me to choose red bell peppers (I like them roasted, but hate them raw), but I grabbed eight bell peppers and decided to run with it. Keeping with the red theme (sometimes I just love cooking based on color...it is often the source of my flavor combinations), I grabbed some gorgeous red cherry tomatoes.
When I make tomato chutneys, I dry out the tomatoes in the oven to concentrate the flavor. I decided to use that technique, but stop halfway and just use partially dried tomatoes, which my husband describes as tomato gushers! The flavor is so concentrated, and they just burst in your mouth. I wanted a juxtaposition of textured dip with a succulent tomato, and that's what you'll find after you make this recipe!
8 red bell peppers
1 1/2 cups walnuts
4 tbsp tomato paste
1 cup red cherry tomatoes
2 tbsp cumin seeds
1 tbsp coriander seeds
1 tbsp whole fenugreek
Aleppo chili flakes
1/2 tsp salt
Naan - buy at the store, or wait for my flatbread recipe, coming soon!
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Lay aluminum foil down on a baking sheet. Place red bell peppers on sheet pan, and bake for 40 minutes, until skin of bell peppers are blackened on most sides. Can flip the peppers after 20 minutes if you feel compelled. Let the peppers cool after removing them from the oven. You can also purchase roasted red bell peppers, but the taste is much more fresh if you make them yourself. It will still taste great with jarred bell peppers, but make sure there is no additional seasoning added to the jarred peppers.
Adjust the temperature of the oven to 180 degrees. Lay aluminum foil down on a baking sheet. Place cherry tomatoes dry on the sheet pan, and place in oven. Oven dry tomatoes (no addition of olive oil or anything) for 2-2.5 hours, until tomatoes are shriveled and partially dehydrated. Taste one. The flavor will be concentrated, and pop in your mouth like a gusher.
While the peppers cool, toast cumin seeds, coriander seeds, and whole fenugreek in a pan over low-med heat for 2 minutes or when increasingly aromatic, lightly browned but not burnt. Finely grind the spices in a coffee-grinder or spice-grinder, or a mortar & pestle if you really want to put your back into it (great arm workout).
Remove the skins from the peppers when cool, and remove seeds as well.
Blend roasted red bell peppers, walnuts, tomato paste, 2 tbsp of the cumin-coriander-fenugreek spice blend, 2 dates, and 1/2 tsp of salt into a marvelous dip. Place in a shallow serving bowl, sprinkle with aleppo chile flakes, and top with oven dried cherry tomatoes. Grill naan on grill pan, about 2 minutes on one side, until grill marks are present. Serve dip with grilled naan.
This is time intensive, as far as dips go - about 3 hours. Hands on time is barely 20 minutes, but the roasting of the peppers and tomatoes takes time. BUT, it will be an exquisite party pleaser and worth every bite.