Healthy Holiday Recipe Countdown – Day 6

Roasted Red Pepper and Eggplant Spread

  1. Canola cooking spray
  2. 2 lbs. sweet bell peppers, preferably a combination of red and orange
  3. 1 small eggplant, about 1 lb.
  4. 2 garlic cloves, minced
  5. 2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  6. 1 tsp. salt
  7. 1 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
  8. Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Cover 2 baking sheets with foil. Coat foil with cooking spray. Set pans aside.

Halve peppers lengthwise and seed them. Arrange peppers cut side down on one prepared baking sheet. Place eggplant on second baking sheet and prick with fork all over. Roast peppers and eggplant for 30 to 40 minutes, until skin of peppers is blistered and blackened. Eggplant should be soft but not collapsed. Using tongs, transfer peppers to large bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and set aside to steam for 20 minutes. Wrap eggplant with foil covering baking sheet, and set aside for 30 minutes.

Using your fingers, peel peppers. Tear or cut flesh into 2-inch chunks, place in food processor and pulse 5 or 6 times to chop peppers coarsely. Scoop chopped peppers into mixing bowl. Pull skin from warm eggplant, using your fingers. Place eggplant flesh in food processor. Add garlic, oil and 1 teaspoon salt, and whirl to smooth puree. Add pureed eggplant mixture to peppers and stir to combine. Mix in vinegar and adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper.

If serving now, let the spread sit for 1 hour to allow the flavors to mellow. Serve at room temperature, spread on crostini or serve as a dip, accompanied by carrot and celery sticks, cucumber slices and wedges of pepper. This spread will keep, covered in refrigerator, for up to 5 days.

To freeze, spoon the spread into 1/2-cup plastic containers or pack 1- to 1 1/2-cups into resealable 1-quart plastic freezer bags. Lay the bags flat and freeze on the baking sheet.

To defrost and serve, set the container of frozen spread on a plate in the refrigerator for 6 to 24 hours, depending on the amount. Or thaw in a large bowl of cold water for up to 1 hour, changing the water every 15 minutes. Once thawed, adjust the seasoning as needed, including vinegar, and serve as above.

Makes 3 cups.