By Alan Roettinger
The importance of joining health and pleasure together in our everyday food cannot possibly be overstated. Why? There are two compelling reasons. First, if what we eat is not assuring good health, we will inevitably pay a steep price eventually, and second, if healthful food is not enjoyable to eat, then at some point we will not want to keep eating it. Even masochists like a good meal (trust me on this, I’ve cooked for a few, and they want no pain at dinnertime). This is the reasoning behind my passion for finding ways to make healthful, nutrient-dense food delectable.
Sometimes all it takes to transform a perfectly nutritious but somewhat boring dish is a simple sauce to add a splash of vibrant flavor. In French cooking, sauces came about back in the days before the advent of refrigeration, primarily to mask the disagreeable taste of decomposing meat and seafood. The notion of adding flavor was almost an afterthought. Lovely, right? I mention this only to illustrate how a flavorful sauce can brighten up pretty much anything.
Of the many sauces I’ve used over the last thirty-five years, one of my favorites is an uncomplicated affair made with roasted red peppers. I love it for its flavor, versatility and relatively easy preparation. It enriches soups, is delicious on pasta or otherwise plain steamed vegetables, and makes a terrific dip, to name just a few applications. It can be made anywhere from mild to super spicy, plain to complex, and thin to quite dense, all depending on the variety and quantity of ingredients. What’s more, it presents an ideal vehicle for omega-3 fats, which are crucial to enjoying optimum health.
If there is a hard part, it could only be roasting and peeling the peppers, and you can even skip this if you buy roasted peppers in a jar. My hope is that once you master this easy yet terrific sauce, you’ll be eager to try others. And then you’ll be on your way to cooking and eating at home more often than eating processed foods and dining out. Eventually, you’ll be in complete control of what goes into your food and – especially – what doesn’t.
Red Pepper Sauce
Makes about 1½ cups
You’ll get perfectly respectable results with roasted peppers from a jar, so feel free to go that route and save time and trouble. Just be sure to rinse off the canning liquid before you use them. You can also vary the degree of heat by adjusting the amount of Aleppo pepper to suit your taste, or omit it altogether for a mild red pepper sauce. This sauce will keep for a couple of weeks in the refrigerator (not that it will last that long).
4 roasted red peppers
4 peeled cloves garlic
1 tablespoon Spanish smoked paprika
1 teaspoon Aleppo pepper, or ½ teaspoon cayenne
½ teaspoon unrefined sea salt
1/3 cup flax oil, preferably Udo’s Choice 3-6-9 Oil Blend*
Place the roasted peppers, garlic, smoked paprika, Aleppo pepper and salt in a blender. Process to a smooth puree. With the motor running, slowly add the oil. When the mixture is an even, light red color, pour into a glass jar or sauce dish. Serve at once, or refrigerate for up to 2 weeks.
*Udo’s Choice 3-6-9 Oil Blend is an organic plant-based, very high quality source of omega-3 and omega-6 essential fats. Ask for it at your local natural foods stores. And no, no one is paying me to say this.
Watch me demonstrate how to roast and peel peppers.