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Lucky Comestible 6 (1): Roasted Red Pepper and Apple Dip

[I thought it would be fun to run a little series over here at DDD: I’ll profile one one of my favorite foods, or a food that I’ve recently discovered and enjoyed, over several days.  The series is presented on an occasional (and entirely arbitrary) basis, before I move on to the next lucky comestible. This is the first entry on apples.]

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Honestly, where does the time go?  Here we are on November 5th–but wasn’t yesterday Halloween? Now that I finally seem to be clawing my way out of my flu funk, the days are whizzing by (if only they’d whiz directly to mid-April–do not collect $200, do not pass snow–that would be great.  I, for one, could do without winter.)

Well, whether we want to or not, at this point most of us are thinking ahead to the holidays.  With that in mind, I’ve got two great suggestions before I turn to today’s Lucky Comestible.

If you’re looking for some delicious holiday-themed dishes, take a look at Nava Atlas’s A Bountiful Vegan Thanksgiving ebook.  At 78 pages, it contains a slew of recipes, from appetizers and soups to salads, side dishes, entrées, stuffings, sauces, and desserts.  While most of the recipes are Nava’s own, she also includes dishes from “guest” chefs like Beverly Lynn Bennett, Fran Costigan, Dreena Burton, Isa Chandra Moskowitz, Robin Robertson and Susan Voisin, among others (and two recipes by yours truly!).  I was thrilled to receive my copy and even though we’ve already celebrated Thanksgiving here in Canada, I still saw lots of recipes I can serve up at Christmas time and through the new year. Best of all, profits from the book are all going to some of Nava’s favorite charities. Click here for more info or to buy.

And don’t forget that Sweet Freedom is on sale until the beginning of December!  With over 100 recipes for all your favorite sweet treats made healthy (plus a few unexpected goodies!), you can have your cake this holiday season, and great health, too.  The book would also make a wonderful gift, and can be signed for the recipient. Just click on the book cover at left or the Cookbook link at the top of the page for more info or to purchase.

And while I was thinking about the holidays, I decided on the focus of this sixth Lucky Comestible series. Although I love pumpkin and have a few recipes that include it on this blog, there’s never a shortage of pumpkin-based recipes at this time of year. I got to thinking about other autumn produce and how I could incorporate it into my holiday menus.  And since I’ve recently seen the return of limited fruits to my culinary repertoire, I immediately decided to highlight one of these not-so-sweet beauties in my next Lucky Comestible series.  And then it hit me–why not apples? 

I mean, apples are, in a way, the original fruit (though technically those naked lovers did gorge on pretty much every other fruit before they bit into that MacIntosh). And it’s true what they say–your daily Granny Smith could very well be a means to protecting your health.  Apples are also visually appealing, tasty, portable snacks; and, I daresay, they are probably the single fruit consumed by the largest number of people. They’re sort of like the Miss Congeniality of fruits.  In fact, they’re actually the Sally Field of fruits–we like them!  We really, really like them. How many people don’t enjoy apples?

Far from being a mundane pleasure, then, apples are a healthy indulgence that come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and appellations.  Of course, we’re all familiar with cute little Granny Smith, with her tough exterior and tart insides, or the sweet and delicate Delicious varieties.  But how about the Scarlet O’Haralson or Summer Rambo? Apples take on Hollywood!  If you’re curious about all the names bestowed upon this common fruit, check here

Apples are also associated with myriad historical facts and trivia.  For an amazingly comprehensive list of all things apple, check out this incredible post by Johanna of Green Gourmet Giraffe (Thanks, Johanna!).

Of course, we all know how versatile the forbidden fruit is in terms of flavor combinations; besides the seminal apples and cinnamon, apples can chum around with savory curries, sweet spice mixtures, your choice of alcoholic beverages, caramel, and even chocolate. It’s also a flexible ingredient that contributes equally well to any course of a meal. So I thought it would be fun to run the gamut of courses, featuring an apple-based dish spanning appetizer to soup to main course and dessert.

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Ready for your appetizers?  Let’s begin with this astonishing roasted red pepper and apple dip.  Wouldn’t this look beautiful on a holiday buffet table?

This recipe hails from Nicole Routhier’s Fruit Cookbook, a massive tome that’s been wedged in my cookbook book case between Meena Pathak’s Indian Cooking for Family and Friends and the Moosewood Low Fat Favorites for almost a year without stirring (pun intended. Oh, and that reminds me, I really need to organize my cookbooks already).  A book based on fruit recipes seemed perfect for my apple quest, so I pulled it from the shelf and began to browse.  The original dip was intended for grilled shrimp, but we had it over grilled tofu with favorable results.  It would also go exceptionally well spread on crackers, or as a base in either a grilled eggplant or avocado sandwich (or both together). 

The alluring triad of smoky peppers, tangy Granny Smith, and fiery chili flakes was enough to win my heart (and my taste buds)–after enjoying this spooned over tofu, I took to spooning it straight from the container and into my salivating maw.  One part chutney, one part part salsa, and one part jam, this is a perfect spread for almost any food.  With a cheery orange blush (perfect for the season!) and slightly grainy texture, the dip looks beautiful mounded in a serving bowl and struck me as a fitting centerpiece for a platter of simple sweet potato “fries.”  Let the holiday menus begin!

(And stay tuned for a very festive giveaway coming up next post!) 😀

Roasted Red Pepper Dip

from Nicole Routhier’s Fruit Cookbook

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A versatile dip that works well with roasted vegetables, tofu, or burgers.  This would also be great tossed with pasta or spread in a sandwich.

4 medium red peppers, roasted (you can roast them yourself or just use prepared ones), chopped

1/2 cup (120 ml) extra virgin olive oil, preferably organic

4 tsp (20 ml) minced garlic

2 tsp (10 ml) dried red pepper flakes (or less, to taste)

1/2 cup (85 g) natural almonds, lightly toasted

1/4 cup (60 ml) red wine vinegar (for ACD variation, use lemon juice)

1 tsp (5 ml) sugar, or 3-5 drops stevia liquid

1/2 Granny Smith apple, peeled, cored and chopped

salt and pepper, to taste

Heat 2 Tbsp (10 ml) of the olive oil in a skillet over medium heat and add the garlic and red pepper flakes. Sauté until fragrant and lightly golden, about one minute.  Remove from heat.

Place the chopped peppers in a food processor or blender (I used a food processor).  Add the sautéed garlic mixture, the remaining 6 Tbsp (90 ml) olive oil, toasted almonds, vinegar (or lemon juice) and sugar (or stevia) and process to a purée.  Add the chopped apple and process again until blended. (If your blender isn’t large enough to hold allt he ingredients at once, process in two batches and then stir them together in a bowl).

Transfer the dip to a bowl and season to taste with salt and pepper. Cover and refrigerate until well chilled.  Makes about 2 cup (480 ml).  Will keep, covered, in refrigerator up to 3 days. 

Last Year at this Time: Roasted Garlic and Pumpkinseed Pesto

Other Posts in this Series:

Other Apple-Based Recipes You Might Enjoy:

Other Lucky Comestibles:

© 2009 Diet, Dessert and Dogs

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