Roasted Red Pepper and Walnut Relish (Vegan, GF)

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In 2013, I completed my MA, moved across the country to Waco, TX, married my best friend, bought a house with my husband, and adopted a puppy. I’ve been busy. Not to mention all the smaller things, like the women’s writing group I joined (hey ladies!), the Italian sausage and hamburger pizza topping recipes I worked on for Shorty’s, the fifty or so blog posts I wrote, the 365+ food photos I posted on Instagram (heh, sorry), and the 2 million cups of coffee I guzzled… With all of this going on, the New Year was on me before I had time to think about it much. But that’s what everyone says.

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I’ve never been much of a New Year’s Resolution type anyway. I tend to reexamine myself at my personal new year–my birthday (is that egotistical? it feels like it). That’s when the feeling of crisis and time passing hits for me. This time around, though, the turning of the year feels more like a real transition point. As the man and I walk into a new era of our lives, it makes sense to put goals down on paper, to give voice to a few of the many dreams and ambitions that are swarming around in my head.

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My big resolutions? 1) Saving more of my time and energy on keeping up with friends and family, and 2) Remembering to chase after the things I love and dream of, even when I’m afraid of failure. Of course, there are smaller-scale goals, like cutting back on refined flours and sugars, training for a half-marathon (HAHA), and lessening the caffeine intake…

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In that spirit, I’ve been keeping up with Bon Appetit’s annual Food Lover’s Cleanse. It’s not really reasonable for me (a food lover, but a stubborn one) to follow an eating plan that is so specific (it outlines what to eat for every single meal), but I LOVE the looks of some of these recipes. I’ve already started making some of the condiments, like this Red Pepper and Walnut Relish. The mint adds an unexpected zippy freshness, and the walnuts add great texture. I’m planning to serve this over eggs at breakfast, and/or over protein at dinner. I think it would go really well with a cheese plate, but we’re not supposed to be thinking about cheese plates on January 2nd, are we?

What New Year’s resolutions are you keeping (or not!)?

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Roasted Red Pepper and Walnut Relish
Makes about 2 cups of relish

You can find the recipe on the Bon Appetit website, but I’ve reprinted here exactly what I did. It only varies slightly in that I used more red pepper and lemon juice and substituted the (I think) somewhat exotic Aleppo pepper/hot smoked paprika for my own dried cayenne pepper.

¼ cup walnuts
3 medium red bell peppers*
1 large garlic clove, grated
1 Tablespoon mint, minced
1 Tablespoon olive oil
½ teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
1 Tablespoon fresh-squeezed lemon juice
½ teaspoon balsamic vinegar
Salt and freshly-ground black pepper

1. Move your oven rack to the top half and preheat broiler on high. Wash and thoroughly dry red peppers and arrange on ungreased sheetpan. Do not crowd the peppers. Keep close eye on peppers as they blister and blacken in the oven. Turn peppers so that all side are blackened and blistered. When soft and completely blistered, immediately turn peppers out into a bowl and seal tightly with plastic wrap or a plate. Let sweat for at least 20 minutes, then peel off membranes and remove seeds and stems. Do not rinse the seeds out, as this will wash away lots of the juice (and flavor). Dice peeled, seeded peppers, reserving as much juice as possible.

2. Meanwhile, lower oven temperature to 350 F. Toast almonds on dry sheetpan for 8-10 minutes, turning to prevent burning. When fragrant and slightly browned, pour onto cutting board and chop roughly.

3. In medium bowl, whisk together grated garlic, minced mint, cayenne pepper, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and lemon juice. Add walnuts and diced roasted red peppers with their juices, and season relish with salt, pepper, lemon juice, and cayenne pepper (if desired).

Store chilled and sealed. Keeps for 3 days. Serve at room temperature.

* Tip, make it worth your while and roast up and peel a big batch of peppers. Use the rest for something else!

3 comments

  1. Alyssa Gomez · · Reply

    This looks delicious! And yes, you are totally doing a half-marathon in 2014 🙂

  2. This is lovely, I can imagine the flavors and textures together, and this is a perfect way of starting the year healthfully, and yet “gourmande-ly” (can one say that?). Blend it to a thick puree consistency, and you have “muhammara”, a delicious Syrian spread/dip (but then you will need some bread to spread it on). What a full year you have had! My year was: sitting at home writing the PhD, yoga, cooking, repeat. And 2014 looks like it is going to be quite similar. 🙂 I wish you a wonderful 2014, good luck with everything, love, cooking, projects, even the marathon! I am sure you can make it!

    1. Darya! Thanks so much! Your year sounds really appealing though. I’ve never heard of muhammara, but I realized I could make Harissa now that I’ve got all these roasted peppers…and I think we can say “gourmande-ly!” I was thinking the same thing. The cleanse doesn’t ask you to give up interesting flavors and textures. Best of luck this new year!

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