The Prettiest Peppers

Missoula’s Clark Fork Market has ended, but its colors live on. I spent last Sunday in the kitchen, keeping warm beside the stove as I turned the season’s last goodies into batches of soup, sauce and stew. Unfortunately, I couldn’t smell much—I’ve been fighting a cold that continues to linger. But the cooking itself seemed to help me heal. It takes a spoonful of chemistry, a hint of magic and a smidgen of art to turn the raw specimens above into the beautiful, smooth paste below.

I adore that color—so vivid, it’s a gift.

The sauce is really a simple concoction, tasty on tortillas or mixed with cheese. I can envision it cooked with sausage, perhaps mushrooms and onions, and poured over noodles. It makes a good dip for raw veggies or corn chips. There are so many ways to eat it. But part of me is perfectly happy to just look at its color.

Here’s what I did: I chopped a mountain of sweet red peppers (12 or 13, I think), a handful of big shallots and several cloves of garlic. Then I peeled and minced a small hunk of fresh turmeric. I sautéed all of those ingredients in a bit of grapeseed oil until everything turned tender. I added smoked paprika, sel gris, and a generous drizzle of olive oil, then blended with a nifty gadget like this. Now, a confession: I’m not a gadget gal. I was skeptical of this blender at first. It came with the kitchen we’re renting here and, well, let’s just say the homeowner has treated us very well indeed but I do believe we have very different cooking habits. But after a few messy attempts at using a ridiculously small food processor to purée various soups and sauces, I brought out the wand. And voilà! No mess. Purely smooth. I’ve been using the magic wand ever since.

And that’s that. Simple sauce with the most intense color and sweet pepper goodness.

6 thoughts on “The Prettiest Peppers

  1. I don’t have as many peppers and they aren’t nearly as gorgeous as yours, but your recipe sounds really terrific. I’ll give it a try. D’you think dried turmeric will be close enough?

  2. Nikki, I do think dried would work. In fact, you could probably leave it out entirely if you wish – I just like to add turmeric to lots of recipes for taste but also the color and health benefits.

    Dude, thanks. As always, photo credit goes to Jerry!

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