Did you spend a lot of time staring at your dishes, last year, hoping that some miracle would occur and a fantastic dinner would appear on your plate? Did you make a promise to yourself that this year would be different? This would be the year you actually crack open one of those 50+ cookbooks you own and make new and exciting dinners for yourself. How has that been working out for you? Finding yourself making the same ol’ things you were sticking in your pie hole last year? Or worse, are you eating out even more? I think I’ve got something that will help you. It’s not that what you make is bad…it’s just boring. You can make that food in your sleep (and sometimes you actually do – you never thought you would mix up sugar) and it just doesn’t taste as good as it once did. With these easy recipes for red pepper sauce, roasted garlic and the resulting garlic oil you’ll now have some ingredients to stir into your old standby’s that will elevate them to new favorites.
We all do it. We fall into culinary ruts. I jokingly make fun of growing up eating the same 8 meals over and over again, but the truth is that I’m guilty of doing that too. I’ve got my recipes that are memorized down to the last second of prep and cook. We’ve got to have those things in our lives. How else do you feed your family when you’ve got 3 kids running in 10 different directions, simultaneously, you’ve got a meeting to go to and who knows when your husband will make it home from his hell-ish commute. Or what about those nights when you just can’t bear to see another human being, but you don’t feel like cooking some kind of involved meal? DUH – it’s a bowl of cereal dinner kinda night. It’s also called self-preservation.
I think I’ve got a couple of little tricks to add to your dinner recipe arsenal that will keep everyone (sort of…is something like that even possible?) happy. I like to think of these as mix in’s. You know how they have those little candies or cookies you can mix in with your ice cream/fro yo and make it taste even better? Just think of this red pepper sauce, roasted garlic and garlic oil as cooking mix in’s. You just add a bit of any, or all, of these things to your recipe and you’ve suddenly made one of your boring and regular dishes into something different and delicious again.
This red pepper sauce is a bit different from the red pepper sauce you’re probably thinking of. It’s not a sauce that you just pour over a pound of cooked pasta. No this is more of a concentrated red pepper sauce. It’s best use is stirring it into a pot of spaghetti sauce for a deeper flavor. Or you could mix it up with some cream cheese and use it as a spread for crostini. Take a big spoonful of the sauce and stir it into beef stew or maybe into a pot of chili. Or maybe you’ve got a can of tomato soup that just tastes pretty blah (aside from the saltiness). Add a little spoonful to the soup and turn that can into something that tastes a little more homemade.
Because this red pepper sauce is so concentrated, you could even just spoon it straight into your mouth. It’s got a lot of sweetness from the caramelized red peppers and onions. A little of this goes a long way.
Of course you know how good roasted garlic is, but who’s got time to deal with the oven and everything else involved with roasting a head of garlic. I’ve got lots of recipes on here that call for roasted garlic, but most of them involve that oven method. So you want to learn how to make roasted garlic minus the oven? Make it on the stove top. Okay…that’s not exactly, technically, roasted garlic but it’s very similar. Plus, making it on the stove top gives you a great by product – garlic oil.
Making roasted garlic this way takes about 20-30 minutes and everything stores nice and neat in a covered glass jar in your fridge.
Take a few of these softened garlic cloves and mash them into potatoes, add them to goat cheese for a nice spread, add them to a plain oil and vinegar salad dressing for extra flavor (or replace the plain oil with some of the garlic oil). Drizzle some of the garlic oil onto a piece of toast for impromptu garlic bread at lunch. Add the garlic oil to any of your recipes that call for plain oil where you think a light touch of garlic would make it taste better.
So do try to mix up your everyday cooking with a couple of new recipes, but with tricks like this easy red pepper sauce, roasted garlic and garlic oil up your sleeve you can turn an old standy into something new and exciting.
- Red Pepper Sauce
- 3 Large Red Peppers (seeded and sliced thin)
- 1 Large Onion (sliced thin)
- 2 Tablespoons Garlic Oil (or regular olive oil)
- Kosher Salt
- Freshly Ground Black Pepper
- Roasted Garlic
- 20 Cloves Garlic
- Olive Oil to Cover Garlic Cloves
- Red Pepper Sauce
- Add all of the ingredients to a large (5 qt) pot.
- Heat over medium high heat and stir to mix well.
- Continue cooking and occasionally stirring the mixture. (About 10 minutes)
- Reduce heat to medium, cover and cook for 5 minutes.
- Remove lid and you will see quite a bit of moisture in the pot (that's good). You should also notice that the peppers and onions are much softer.
- Continue cooking until the moisture that remains is mostly the oil.
- Pour contents into a blender (vent the lid) and puree until smooth.
- Pour mixture back into pan and continue cooking over low.
- You'll cook, and occasionally stir, the mixture for roughly 4 hours. Or until it reaches a flavor and consistency you like. You'll notice it turn from an orange color (after it's been blended) to a darker brick color.
- Let mixture cool and spoon into covered jar.
- Store in refrigerator for 2 weeks.
- Roasted Garlic
- Toss the garlic cloves into a small saucepan and pour olive oil over to cover the cloves.
- Heat over medium low heat. The garlic should not be frying. If it is, turn the heat down.
- Continue to cook until cloves are softened. You can check this by lightly pressing a clove against the side of the pan. (This will take 20-30 minutes)
- Remove from heat to let cool.
- Pour into covered jar and store in refrigerator. Cloves will keep up to 2 weeks. Oil will keep longer.
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