Roasted sweet red peppers surely must be one of the finest foods on the planet.  This versatile spread or dip can be used to top bruschetta or as a pasta sauce, or serve it as a dip with some pita, crackers, or veggies. It is colorful, nutritionally dense, and party perfect.

Ingredients:

5 red bell peppers

¼ cup whole raw cashews

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 tablespoons lemon juice

2 tablespoons tomato paste

1 heaping tablespoon organic sugar

1 clove garlic, minced

1 teaspoon salt

½ to 1 teaspoon smoked paprika (hot or sweet)

Directions:

  1. Cut a 1-inch slice off the top of each pepper. This should remove a ring of pepper as well as the stem. Store the pepper rings in the freezer to use another day.
  2. Cut the peppers in half lengthwise and remove the core and membranes. Make four or five 1-inch slices vertically at the bottom end of each half. This will help the peppers flatten out.
  3. Line a sheet pan with aluminum foil (or don’t) and place the pepper halves on it with the cut side down. Press them down and flatten them out to help them broil evenly.
  4. Place your oven rack as close to the broiler as possible and broil the pepper halves until they’re thoroughly blackened. (Don’t forget to take down your smoke detector first!) You may have to move them around to get them all evenly blackened.  Use tongs to transfer them to a tightly closed container such as a lidded pan, paper bag or storage container.
  5. Let the peppers cool and then slip off the blackened skins. Don’t worry about a few remaining burned bits.
  6. While the peppers are cooling, boil the cashews for 10 minutes in plenty of water.  They will swell as they cook. Drain them and rinse them.
  7. Add the cashews to the food processor along with all the other ingredients, including the peeled roasted peppers. Process until smooth.

Wendy Andresen lives in Camden with her husband, Ray; her Sheltie, Sunshine; and her bunny, Rustle. She welcomes responses to her column at wendyandrayzer@yahoo.com.