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It started on Christmas Eve, this newly discovered pepper passion of mine.

The soup for our annual feast was up to me. A nice fennel, leek and spinach soup sounded like a nice interval between the appetizers and the pasta, but to make it a little more festive, a garnish of roasted red pepper puree seemed just the ticket.

I found the recipe on Epicurious.com, but decided to make some adjustments – replacing jarred roasted peppers with fresh ones and adding Aleppo pepper along with the crushed red pepper flakes and adjusting quantities of oil and spice. Because there we 26 of us for dinner, a boatload of soup and puree seemed in order. As usual, I hopelessly over-calculated what we’d actually consume. Turned out to be a happy accident, however, as the puree became a nice garnish for Judy’s insanely good take on a Bouillabaisse, which featured striped sea bass caught by my 15-year old nephew.

The next day, we used the puree on the Christmas morning frittata. The day after Christmas, it  accompanied fish tacos. I decided to whip up another batch to give to my cousin Sally who turned me on to Aleppo pepper in the first place. Since December 24, five triple batches have been made. Addicted? Um, yes.

Try it and see if you become addicted, too. Here’s how:

Roasted Red Pepper Puree
3 red peppers, roasted
1.5 tsp garlic, coarsely chopped
1/4 cup +/- olive oil
1/3 tsp crushed red pepper flakes (or to taste)
1/3 tsp Aleppo pepper (or to taste)
pinch of kosher or sea salt

Char red peppers over a flame or under the broiler until blackened.

P1150714Peel away the char, rinse, and cut into chunks.
P1150715Place all ingredients in a food processor – a mini one works great if you have one.
P1150716P1150718Process until relatively smooth.
P1150721Eat, eat, eat! Here’s some ideas for use:
Use as a garnish on carrot and ginger soup. The spice of the puree offsets the sweetness of the carrot.
P1150710Excellent on a bowl of polenta made with parmesan, butter, and fresh thyme topped with a fried egg (here it’s cut into the polenta) and quickly sautéed asparagus.
IMG_2465Heck, it’s even good on cheese and crackers (this is a nice white English cheddar and a Carr’s black pepper water cracker).
P1150719Uh, I have to go now; there’s a spoonful of roasted red pepper puree whispering my name…