I want to introduce you to the most versatile sauce you will ever have in your fridge.
The other week I made Sausage & Lentils which made use of those slippery and sweet, oily roast red peppers that come in a big, obtuse green jar (if you shop in LIDL or ALDI, you know the kind). Now I wouldn’t particularly use those in their raw form because I find the oil they come in is a little sharp, but I’ve devised a sauce out of them that has completely aided me in the kitchen.
The roast, red peppers have already been skinned and cooked leaving you with a blackened, smoky char which is so gorgeous and charcoal tinged when you taste it, but because they’ve been contained, you still get that whiff of welcome sweetness and smoke to them. It’s like eating the last few licks of a waning bonfire.
This sauce is actually perfect for… well, everything. Allow me to throw some ideas into the ether:
- A pasta sauce with some fried chorizo and parmesan
- A dip for nachos
- Stirred with some mince as the meat layer in a lasagne
- Poured over some prawns and eaten with black rice
- Spread into a sandwich
- Stirred into a tomato-based sauce and eaten with meatballs
- Boiled up with some tomatoes and eaten with mashed potatoes
- Eaten plainly with some chips dipped into it as a ketchup
- Stir fried into some noodles
It’s honestly the most useful and versatile sauce in my fridge. You can’t do all of this with a mayonnaise or a ketchup or a mustard, and you know it. So this sauce acts as a holistic elixir in your fridge that you will call upon in every hour of need. I’m not being dramatic.
I always see these peppers in peoples fridges because they wanted one or two for a particular recipe or something and then, like pickled onions, they stay in the fridge forevermore.
So if you’re the kind of person who throws the roast red pepper jar in your fridge and you’re unsure what to do with it, you’re welcome.
Serves 1 – 2
For the sauce
200g roast red peppers – from a jar
1 thumb sized piece of fresh ginger – peeled
1 clove garlic
2 chillies – chopped (and deseeded if you want less heat)
1 teaspoon sugar
For the couscous and halloumi
1/2 cup of pearl couscous
2 spring onions
A handful of fresh parsley (plus more for serving)
A drizzle of extra virgin olive oil
- For the sauce, drain the peppers from their jar, but drop them quickly into a small bowl, as you want a little of the oil still clinging to them.
- Squeeze in the juice of the lime, and add the ginger, garlic, and chillies. You may find it easier to blend later if you just roughly chop the ginger into chunks.
- Scatter in the sugar and a little salt, and then using a stick blender, puree the contents of the bowl to a thick, but pourable, viscous red sauce. Cover the bowl and leave to one side.
- For the couscous, add the couscous grains to a large pan on a medium heat. You’re looking to toast the couscous here, so once the pan is hot, keep giving it a little shake so that the pearls roll around and start turning a gentle, varnished brown colour.
- Now add 1 cup of water and turn up the heat. When it comes to a boil, drop the heat down, add a little salt to the water and then drop to a simmer, allowing to bubble uncovered for 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally to separate the grains.
- Once the grains have absorbed the water, remove from the heat, cover with a lid, and leave to sit and cool.
- In this time, chop the spring onion and cucumber up into small chunks, and finely chop the parsley.
- Once the couscous has cooled, stir through the spring onions, cucumber and parsley. Taste for seasoning in case you want some more salt, and then spoon the couscous on to your serving plates.
- Put a dry, non-stick frying pan (I use a cast iron on) on the hob on a high heat, and while the pan get gets hot, slice the halloumi into thick pieces, I’d say just as deep as the width of your little finger.
- Once the pan is piping hot, fry the halloumi slices for 2 minutes a side until they are tattooed with a crisp, golden charred – preferably scorched in some spots.
- Place the halloumi pieces on top of the couscous, and squeeze over the juice of the lemon.
- Drizzle over the red pepper sauce, scatter over some finely chopped fresh parsley, and serve.