Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Rouille: A Red Roasted Pepper, Garlic and Olive Oil Specialty from Provence!

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Ahhh, Provence, land of perpetual sunshine, bright blue sky, lavender fields, olive groves, and all things delightful! Nothing is more beautiful and refreshing for the soul than Provence in the spring time! I studied abroad in Aix-en-Provence when I was in college, and every spring, without fail, I start daydreaming about la vie Provençal.



I recently found out I will be able to return to Provence this month, for the first time since college! In anticipation of my upcoming trip, I made this Provençal rouille (pronounced roo-ee). Provençal food is simple but absolutely bursting with fresh flavors. The people of Provence cook with an abundance of fresh herbs, olive oil, garlic, vegetables, and seafood. The cuisine is very Mediterranean (Provence is in Southern France by the coast), resembling Spanish or Italian cuisine, but with its own special flair!

This rouille is an excellent spread/dip to serve at a party, or to serve alongside dinner. I have also found it is a-m-a-z-i-n-g on hot pasta, topped with parmesan cheese (maybe I'll do another post about that one!). This recipe serves 4 to 6 (when served as a dip).


What you'll need:
  • 2 thick slices of French bread, or I also found Tuscan pane (a stone hearth baked Italian bread, available at Trader Joe's) also works well.
  • Enough water to cover the bread
  • Pinch of saffron threads (you only need a few threads - maybe 4 or 5. A small amount of saffron goes a long way!)
  • 1 Tbs hot water
  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 1 to 2 Fresno chile peppers (sometimes called red jalapenos. Use one if you like it milder, 2 if you like it hot. I used 1 and a 1/2.)
  • 3 large garlic cloves
  • 1/4 to 1/2 tsp salt (depending on how salty you like it - you can adjust it)
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil (VERY important to use a good quality extra virgin olive oil so you have that rich olive oil flavor)
Instructions:
1. First place the two slices of bread (remove the crusts) in a bowl and cover them with water (about 1/2 a cup of water).

2. Now we're going to roast the red bell pepper. Set your oven to the "broil" setting and place the pepper in the oven on a pan (water cooks out, so don't set it directly on the oven racks). When one side becomes bubbly and browned, turn it over. You want all sides of the pepper to become browned. When they are, remove the pepper from the oven and let it cool.

3. Put the saffron threads in a bowl and cover with 1 Tbs of hot water.

4. Now we want to remove the skin from the roasted pepper. Once it's cool enough to touch, gently peel off the skin (it should peel away easily, with just your fingers). Slice and de-seed the roasted pepper.

5. Next we're going to blanch the garlic and Fresno red chilies. Bring a pot of water to boil. Chop off the root end of the garlic cloves (you don't have to peel them yet). 

Cut off the root end like this.

Drop the garlic and chilies in the boiling water. Let them boil for only 2 minutes. This reduces some of the pungency of the garlic & peppers (don't worry, they are still flavorful!). Remove the garlic and chilies and let them cool.

6. When the garlic is cool, peel off the skin. It should peel off easily. Coarsely chop the garlic. Slice and de-seed (the seeds are where the heat is!) the Fresno chilies.

7. Place the roasted red bell pepper, the de-seeded Fresno chilies, and the garlic in a blender/food processor. (I love the Ninja!) Squeeze the water out of the bread (try to get most of it out), and place it in the food processor/blender as well. (The bread will give this rouille a delightfully creamy consistency!)

8. Add a little salt, and give the pepper-garlic-bread mixture a good pulse in the blender. Now add a little olive oil and pulse it again. Add a little more olive oil (you'll be adding about a tablespoon or two at a time), blend again. Repeat this process until you've poured in all the oil.

9. Taste to see if it needs more salt. Add the rest of the salt if it does. Now pour in the saffron water. Give it another good pulse in the blender. By this time it should be a creamy, smooth consistency.


10. Toast slices of baguette/French bread or Tuscan pane. Serve them with the wonderful rouille! Serve the rouille in your favorite bowl - it is so pretty! :)

Note - once you taste this, you may find yourself topping all your food with rouille from now on :-D!





I adapted this recipe from this recipe on Paul's Cooking.


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