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Grill-Roasted Red Pepper and Garlic Dip

This flavorful blend is also delicious for dipping grilled shrimp or for spreading on grilled fish or chicken. Grilling the garlic mellows its bite, making for addictive eating. Use the roasted garlic on its own as an easy spread for grilled bread, or to embellish flavored butter, grilled poultry or vegetables.

Ingredients:

  • 6 large garlic cloves, peeled but left whole
  • 3 Tbs. olive oil
  • 3 red bell peppers
  • 3 Tbs. fresh lemon juice
  • 1 1/2 tsp. sweet paprika
  • 1/2 tsp. ground coriander
  • 1 tsp. salt, plus more, to taste
  • 1/2 tsp. freshly ground pepper, plus more, to taste
  • 1 crustless slice coarse country bread, 2 by 2 1/2 by 1 inch, torn into small pieces
  • 1 English cucumber, peeled if desired and cut crosswise into thirds, then pieces quartered lengthwise
  • 1 fennel bulb, trimmed and cut lengthwise into slices 1/2 inch thick
  • 4 carrots, peeled and thickly sliced on the diagonal

Directions:

Prepare a medium-hot fire in a grill. Oil the grill rack.

Slide the garlic cloves, spacing them slightly apart, onto a metal skewer. Brush with 1 tsp. of the olive oil.

Place the bell peppers and skewered garlic on the grill rack over the hottest part of a charcoal fire or directly over the heat elements of a gas grill. Cover the grill. Cook the garlic, turning it once, until the cloves are browned, about 2 1/2 minutes per side. Cook the peppers, rotating them as necessary, until the skin chars and blisters evenly, 15 to 20 minutes.

While the peppers are still hot, slip them into a paper bag, seal the top and let steam for 5 minutes. Remove the peppers from the bag and, using your fingers or a paring knife, peel away the skin. Cut off the stem and remove and discard the seeds. Coarsely chop the peppers. Slide the garlic off the skewer and coarsely chop.

In a food processor, combine the bell peppers, garlic, lemon juice, the remaining 2 Tbs. plus 2 tsp. olive oil, the paprika, coriander, the 1 tsp. salt and the 1/2 tsp. pepper. Using pulses, process briefly. Add the torn bread and process, stopping once or twice to scrape down the sides of the work bowl, until the mixture is thick and smooth. Transfer to a bowl and let stand at room temperature for 1 hour to develop the flavors. Adjust the seasonings with salt and pepper.

Serve the dip accompanied with the cucumber, fennel and carrots for dipping. Makes about 2 cups dip; serves 6.

Adapted from Williams-Sonoma, Essentials of Grilling, by Denis Kelly, Melanie Barnard, Barbara Grunes & Michael McLaughlin (Oxmoor House, 2003).