I had a plan for this blog post, dear reader. September is suddenly upon us, along with all those cosy autumnal feelings, so after work the other day I strolled along a quiet cycle lane, shielded either side by banks of greenery, in search of blackberries. These late-summer fruits are perfect September fare, tart, inky and juicy. My expectations were high… thus I was doomed to fail. Dear reader, it was a sorry state of affairs. Thick, brambly bushes rose out of the shrubbery bedecked in tiny, scrawny, and definitely dead blackberries.
Undeterred by the first bush, I continued along the path, keeping a look out for a iridescent berry caught among the leaves. There was no issue finding blackberry bushes, they sat hunched in rows with their branches tangled like crawling arms, but every single blackberry was dead. There were thousands! So, grouchy and depressed I went home. Blackberries will have to wait. *Muffled sobs*
Luckily, I had other ideas up my sleeve. Like the good Brownie I was, I am always prepared. (My mum was Brown Owl so the credit goes to her.)
Although summer is suddenly over I have been clinging onto those last warming rays by serving colourful sunny dishes for week-night dinners. My favourites always involve that indoor picnic, build-your-own dinner out the various dishes covering the coffee table. One included three bowls of different sauces – chimichurri, chipotle mayo, and lime butter (which, I admit, isn’t a sauce). What can I say, I really like personalising my plate of food.
My favourite roasted red pepper salsa
One dish I always return to is roasted red pepper salsa. (Is it a dish, a garnish, a dip, a drizzle?!) Hot and tangy, it’s a delicious accompaniment to tortilla chips but I prefer it wrapped in a soft tortilla buried among fish goujons, crunchy lettuce and homemade tartare sauce. Or served alongside steak and fat sweet potato wedges. I made it a lot this summer. Maybe it’s that delirious combination of tomato, coriander and lime that just sings. Or it’s just the perfect side to a pick ‘n mix dinner. However you choose to eat it, even if it’s just off the spoon, this salsa is no nonsense to make – no food processor or hand blender required.
Muddled altogether, the syrupy roasted peppers, the tomatoes, slivered chillies and diced red onion are all covered in roughly tousled coriander and a squeeze of fresh lime. No need to blend, roasted red pepper salsa is an excuse to show off your knife skills. The flavour is so fresh it dances all over your tongue. So get chopping and squeeze the last of the summer out of your food.
Roasted pepper salsa
2 peppers, preferably different colours
2 ripe tomatoes
1 red chilli
Half a red onion
Half a bunch of coriander
Salt to taste
- Preheat the oven to 200°C/392°F. Wash the peppers, put them on a baking tray then stick them in the oven. Check them after 20-25 minutes – if they are soft, oozy and their skins have darkened they are ready. Wrap each in foil and leave to cool.
- Once cool enough to handle remove the foil and gently peel of the peppers’ skins and pop out the core and seeds. A lot of juice will pour out too! Roughly chop the peppers into cm chunks and throw into a bowl.
- Finely chop the tomatoes and red onion and slice the chilli into thin slivers. Add as much or as little as you want – I tend to use half a chilli. Mix all three ingredients with the peppers. Tear the coriander leaves and add to the salsa. Coriander is the best part of this so don’t be afraid to add it all! Squeeze half of the lime over everything and mix. Taste and add more chilli, coriander or lime if necessary. Season with salt and either eat straight away or leave so the flavours macerate.