This week we've been focusing on not only vegetarian dishes from The Vegetarian Option by Simon Hopkinson, but also warm weather meals. I thought that I'd share a recipe that embodies one of my favorite ways to eat during the warmer months. Instead of spending an hour or two in a hot kitchen, chopping, sautéing, and roasting away, I prefer to make a meal out of what would normally be considered hors d'œuvres or snacks.
Assembling a spread of dips, spreads, and crostini is my ideal way to graze through a summer evening. This Red Pepper Mousse with Garlic Toasts is a prime contender for my ideal easily prepared meal that relies mainly on pantry ingredients, a crisp baguette, and a bottle of chilled white or rosé.
While the recipe calls for piquillo peppers, Peppadews or even roasted red bells would make for a fine substitute. The agar, a gelling agent, can easily be omitted to make this more of a spread than a mousse. It's really the sweet, sour, and creamy elements of the peppers, sugar, vinegar, and cream paired with the crisp garlic toast that make this a wonderfully grazable combination.
Win The Vegetarian Option
As always with our Cook the Book feature, we have five (5) copies of The Vegetarian Option to give away this week.
- For the mousses
- 5 to 6 ounces ripe tomatoes, coarsely chopped
- 1 rounded tablespoon agar flakes
- 1 cup (rounded) drained bottled Spanish piquillo peppers
- Pinch of cayenne pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon celery salt
- 1/2 teaspoon sugar
- 1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
- 1/2 cup whipping cream
- For the garlic toasts
- Allow 2 long slices of rustic baguette (cut on the diagonal), per person
- 1 garlic clove, peeled and halved
- Maldon sea salt and freshly ground pepper
- Olive oil for brushing
Place the tomatoes in a small pan and sprinkle the agar flakes over. Warm through over low heat, swirling the tomatoes around until they begin to wilt and release some of their juices, then stir in the slowly melting agar flakes. Allow to
stew gently for a further 3 to 4 minutes.
Purée the piquillo peppers, cayenne, celery salt, sugar, and vinegar in a blender until very smooth. Add the tomatoes to the blender now (scraping out every last vestige with a spatula) and blend briefly once more. now pass this mixture
through a fine strainer into a bowl, pressing down on the solids with the back of a small ladle. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes, or until beginning to set.
Whip the cream in another bowl, only just until soft peaks form. Now transfer the whisk to the pepper mixture and give this a brief whisking to loosen it.
Carefully fold the cream into the pepper purée until well combined and without any white streaks. Decant into ramekins, smooth over the surface, and stretch a piece of plastic wrap over the top of each one. place in the refrigerator to set, for at least 2 hours.
For the garlic toasts, toast the baguette slices until nicely burnished. Rub the cut garlic clove over each one, season lightly, and brush with olive oil.
Eat the red pepper mousse with teaspoons, occasionally spreading some of it onto the garlic toasts.