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Tuesday, 5 November 2013

Peppers (Πιπεριές)

Peppers are great in the freezer: you can freeze them whole (especially good if they are hot small peppers like chilis - they slice well too), or as shells (for filing in various ways, eg yemista in Greek cuisine), or in strips to add in stews (I like themin this form for my weekly soupy bean or lentil stews). We had a good run of peppers this past summer, and only recently cleared the garden of the last pepper plants. There are only so many peppers you can use and freeze, and I stil had plenty left over.
So I set about making a pepper sauce, from an idea that I got in a Greek blog: I let cook till soft some chopped peppers, onion, garlic, herbs and spices, with some sugar, vinegar and tomato paste (as we are now clean out of tomatoes which didn't do so well in our garden this year for some reason). This pepper sauce makes a great addition to stews and soups, adding a stronger flavour similar to the way stock gives an extra punch to them with a vegetarian twist.

But as you can see, there were still quite a few peppers remaining in my store, so I had to think up of another way to use them: what about a spicy muhammara?! Muhammara is a fantastic spicy party-winning dip, made primarily with red roasted peppers and ground nuts, that can be eaten with crispy snacks like toasted bread and carrot sticks. In some ways, it's very similar to the Greek eggplant dip (melitzanosalata). But it's also fantastic as an accompaniment to meat and fish; I made it to go with Saturday's meal of fried sole fillets which were on special at the supermarket, at €6.34/kg.
The muhammara recipe I used mentioned pomegranate molasses, which I didn't have (I used a little cider vinegar mixed with some home-made grape molasses, which we call 'petimezi' in Greece), but I topped it off with some pomegranate seeds which gave the muhammara a bit more texture.

I always find it a challenge to use up ingredients or preserve them in unusual ways. These two little projects kept me busy at the weekend.

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