I LOVE sweet peppers. We have a variety of hot things growing in our garden right now, and a few small sweet items as well. But I wanted more—enough to make a healthy batch of this rich pepper spread. So I visited Old Town Farm in Albuquerque where customers pick their own. Rows and rows of peppers—and grasshoppers eager to beat you to the goods. Get in there soon!
I came home with a big bowlful of the radiant red beauties pictured above. Key to this recipe is the mingling of sweet and smokey flavors… with garlic. When the in-laws visited several weeks ago, they left us a giant garlic ristra straight from the origins: Gilroy, California. (They live just a few miles away in Morgan Hill. Some days, when the wind blows, garlic scents permeate the home, inside and out.)
The recipe is really quite simple:
Sweet Red Pepper-Pine Nut Spread
12 (approximately) large sweet red peppers, or a medley of your choosing
1 head of garlic
1 (or more) cup pine nuts
1 small red onion, sliced thinly
Salt, pepper and hot Hungarian paprika to taste
Rinse the peppers and place them on a hot grill along with the whole head of garlic. You want to char the peppers so the flesh inside turns tender and juicy. Grill the garlic until the skin is charred and crispy and the cloves are softened but not burnt.
Next, sauté the onion in a bit of oil until it is nicely softened. Set aside.
Remove the garlic and peppers from the grill when finished. Allow the peppers to cool, then remove the skins (which should slide off relatively easily). Remove stems (and seeds if you desire), and chop peppers roughly. Place into a bowl or food processor along with 3-4 of the roasted garlic cloves (more if the head is small) and the onion. Add the toasted pine nuts.
Purée until creamy. Add salt, pepper and paprika to taste.
Serve with crackers, vegetables or anything you desire.