Red Pepper Soup
Total time: 45 minutes
2 tablespoons olive oil
3¼ cup sliced onions
3 large cloves garlic, crushed
¼ cup dry white wine
12 large red bell peppers, cut in 1-inch pieces
2 cups no-salt-added chicken stock or broth (we used vegetable broth instead.)
2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme
¼ to ½ teaspoon hot red pepper flakes
Salt and white pepper
Crème fraîche for garnish
Thyme sprigs for garnish.
1. Put oil in large pot. Add onion when oil is hot. Cook onions until they begin to soften and take on color. Add garlic and cook another minute. Add wine and cook down quickly, until about 1 tablespoon is left.
2. Add peppers, stock, thyme and red pepper flakes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Cover and simmer until peppers are tender, about 30 minutes.
3. In food processor or blender, purée mixture in batches until smooth. Adjust seasonings. (As usual, I used a hand blender instead. It was a little tricky because of the splattering of the hot soup. Alena was very nervous for me. But I've figured out that if you keep the blender submerged it splatters less.)
4. Cover and chill overnight or for as long as 2 days or freeze (whisk well before serving if thawed). Can also be served warm.
5. Serve in demitasse cups or soup bowls, topped with a dab of crème fraîche and a tiny sprig of thyme.
Yield: Makes six large servings, 12 demitasse size.
We didn't have any creme fraiche, or even sour cream, so we sprinkled some feta on top, as you can see in the photo. Delicious! Later, when I had leftovers, I put some Greek yogurt on top. Also delicious!
Now comes the salad:
Yield: 4 servings
1 medium butternut squash (about 2 to 2 1/2 pounds), peeled, seeded, and cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces
1 medium garlic clove, minced or pressed
1/2 teaspoons ground allspice (I skip this)
2 tablespoons olive oil
One 15-ounce can chickpeas, drained and rinsed (1 1/2 cups)
1/4 of a medium red onion, finely chopped
1/4 cup coarsely chopped fresh cilantro or parsley
For tahini dressing:
1 medium garlic clove, finely minced with a pinch of salt
1/4 cup lemon juice
3 tablespoons well-stirred tahini
2 tablespoons water
2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more to taste
Preheat the oven to 425°F.
In a large bowl, combine the butternut squash, garlic, allspice, olive oil, and a few pinches of salt. Toss the squash pieces until evenly coated. Roast them on a baking sheet for 25 minutes, or until soft. Remove from the oven and cool.
Meanwhile, make the tahini dressing: In a small bowl, whisk together the garlic and lemon juice. Add the tahini, and whisk to blend. Add the water and olive oil, whisk well, and taste for seasoning. The sauce should have plenty of nutty tahini flavor, but also a little kick of lemon. You will probably need to add more water to thin it out.
To assemble the salad, combine the squash, chickpeas, onion, and cilantro or parsley in a mixing bowl. Either add the tahini dressing to taste, and toss carefully, or you could serve the salad with the dressing on the side. Serve immediately.