Thursday, April 28, 2011
Roasted Red Pepper Goat Cheese Dip: Pita's new non-negotiable spread
This past Tuesday, as I was tearing into a scoop of that crazy burger ice cream, my friend Matt and I somehow got into the subject of drinking wine at restaurants. (Burger ice cream is clearly an obvious inroad to pontifications on wine.)
I’d told him that the last guy I went on a date with didn’t drink – actually, a rather pleasant bloke despite his imbibing inhibitions – and Matt looked at me as though I’d just informed him my date had an arm coming out of his forehead.
Or had told me my voice sounded like Sarah Palin’s, had proclaimed he didn’t know what pupusas or gnocchi were, and then let me drive him home from the restaurant because he’d taken the bus there.
I giggled at Matt’s appalled reaction, but ultimately found myself agreeing with him. Neither of us could imagine dating someone who didn’t drink, and we certainly couldn’t fathom having a nice meal at a restaurant without wine.
Pasta without a spicy Italian red to go with it?
Oh the horror! The horror!
Suddenly I wasn’t so heartbroken that the nice sober bloke didn’t text or Tweet or Facebook message me about going out on a second date.
Matt and my conversation got me thinking about other things that I’ve become particular about with regards to food and dining. I don’t consider a meal complete unless it contains a vegetable (garlic counts), I would almost prefer skipping breakfast completely than eating it without a big pot of green tea, and I absolutely cannot have a bowl of soup without a piece of bread to go with it.
It’s a mealtime deal breaker.
So when I made this curried lentil soup a few weekends ago (prior to the dry, heat wave that is currently massacring my desire for it to be summer), I spent a considerable amount of time thinking about what sort of doughy item I would pair with it.
Because the soup does contain a significant amount of curry, the obvious choice would of course be naan, but I ultimately settled on pita because it’s something I’d be more inclined to use up. Once I’d decided on pita, however, I realized that just like I can’t have soup without a bread-type item, I can’t have pita without something to spread on it.
And butter just wouldn’t do.
Instead, I whipped up a roasted red pepper goat cheese dip that I thought would not only pair well with the pita, but the soup that the pita was initially intended to partner with, as well. Unlike my pleasantly dry date and I, the combination really was a match made in heaven. The sweetness of the red peppers was the perfect companion for the tangy goat cheese, and the touch of lemon juice I added helped brighten up the flavors even further. It was glorious spread over the warm pieces of pita – so much so that I’m not sure I’ll be able to eat the rest of the package in my freezer without the dip to go with it.
And perhaps the requisite glass of wine I can’t fathom giving up when dining at a restaurant – sometimes even when that restaurant is my home.
Roasted Red Pepper Goat Cheese Dip
4 ounces goat cheese
3 tablespoons lemon juice
1 red pepper, sliced into one-third inch strips
4 cloves of garlic
Toasted pine nuts (optional)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Toss red pepper slices with a splash of olive oil, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Spread onto the bottom of a glass baking dish with unpeeled garlic cloves. Roast until garlic is tender, approximately, 15-20 minutes. Remove garlic from pan, crank the oven up to 400 degrees, and then return the red pepper to the oven to continue roasting for another 10-15 minutes or until the slices can easily be pierced with a fork.
Combine goat cheese, red pepper, garlic, lemon juice, and a pinch of salt and pepper using an immersion blender (or blender) until the ingredients form a smooth spread.
Once blended, the dip can be chilled and served cold, or can be used immediately in its slightly warm state, topped with the optional toasted pine nuts. Either way, it should be accompanied by warm slices of pita. And, if you are feeling so inclined, a glass of crisp white wine.