Recipe - Roasted Red Pepper Dip (Guest Post)

My friend Jimmy always amazes me when he talks about making food. Occasionally I pester him about starting up a blog but seeing as he hasn't/doesn't have time to, we compromise on him writing me guest posts. Here's an awesome recipe by  him for a roasted red pepper dip!

"Red bell peppers are gross.  I apologize for being so blunt, but I have not had an easy relationship bell peppers.  My mom uses them in all her dishes, so I have grown quite sick of them, to say the least.  I remember wanting to throw up after seeing the host of Iron Chef take a bite out of a bell pepper at the beginning of each show.  Okay, that’s a lie.  Maybe I’m exaggerating my disgust with bell peppers, but my point is that I don’t really care for them.

However, when you roast a red bell pepper, you might as well be performing alchemy.  Roasted red peppers are absolutely fantastic.  They’re sweet and smoky, and when they rest upon your taste buds, you can’t help but close your eyes and breathe a sigh of utter satisfaction.  If you’ve never tasted roasted red peppers, try this recipe and see for yourself how wonderful they can be.  Don’t worry if you don’t know how to roast red peppers; there are directions and tips at the end of the recipe.

Roasted Red Pepper Dip
(Adapted from Good Housekeeping)
Prep: 45 minutes, plus 4 hours cooling time
Makes about 2 cups

  • 4 red peppers, roasted
  • ½ cup almonds, sliced
  • ½ teaspoon cumin
  • 2 slices white or wheat bread, torn into pieces
  • 2 ounces cream cheese, cut into chunks
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)

1. After the red peppers have been roasted and peeled, chop them into 1 inch pieces.  Place into a food processor with a knife blade attached (see note below).  Toast the almonds in a skillet until browned, 1-2 minutes, and add into food processor.

2. Add the cumin, torn bread, cream cheese, vinegar, olive oil, salt, and cayenne pepper into the processor bowl.  Puree until smooth.  Transfer into a bowl and refrigerate for at least 4 hours.  Serve with toasted pita bread.

Notes and Tips:
-          For this dip, I like to use an immersion blender in place of a food processor.  If using an immersion blender, place all ingredients into a tall measuring cup or a deep bowl that can hold at least 2 cups and blend until the dip is smooth.
-          Walnuts can be used in place of almonds.  Toast them the same way as mentioned above.
-          Make sure to use olive oil and not extra virgin olive oil.  Extra virgin is extra strong and will overpower the taste of the dip.
-          Cream cheese can either be original or reduced fat (Neufchatel).  I used about a quarter of a block of Philadelphia cream cheese, but feel free to use more or less depending on the status of your relationship with cream cheese. 
-          If you don’t have balsamic vinegar, don’t worry! You can choose to omit it, and the dip will probably taste just as good.  If you want to substitute another vinegar for balsamic, use maybe half a tablespoon at first and add more to your liking after you have blended and tasted the dip.  Balsamic isn’t as vinegary as other vinegars, so adding 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar will probably make the dip too sour.
-          When buying red peppers, choose ones that have stems that are not dry and brown.  They should be firm, shiny, and heavy.  (Interesting fact: red peppers are ripened green peppers but are sweeter and less bitter.)
-          Please don’t use jarred roasted red peppers.  They aren’t as sweet and smoky as peppers that are freshly roasted.  Trust me, it won’t be the same!

How to roast a red pepper:
1.       Preheat broiler (a toaster oven is more ideal and economical than a full sized oven).  Line a baking sheet (or toaster oven sheet) with foil.  Cut each pepper in half from stem to root.  Scoop out all the seeds and lay the peppers cut side down on the foil.  Place under broiler for 8-10 minutes, until the skin is blistered and charred.
2.       Immediately transfer the peppers into a bowl and cover with foil or plastic wrap.  This will loosen the skin and make it easier to peel off.  Let the peppers sit for at least 15 minutes.
3.       Peel and discard skin.  Do not peel under running water or wash the peppers after they’ve been peeled because the peppers would lose much of its flavor.  Refrigerate for up to 3 days or freeze for up to 3 months if not using right away.