In addition to the roasted garlic (which is actually more subtle than you might expect), the sweetness of roasted red bell peppers and the concentrated richness of sun-dried tomatoes give a burst of flavor to this dip, complemented by just a touch of heat from jalapeno chiles.
This is a great make-ahead dish, as the longer the flavors meld the better it tastes. Just make sure to bring it to room temperature before serving!
ROASTED RED PEPPER & GARLIC DIP:
- 3 Large red bell peppers (or 3 7-oz jars of roasted peppers, drained and dried on paper towels)
- 8 sun-dried tomatoes (Packed without oil)
- 3/4 Cup boiling water
- 1 or 2 jalapeno peppers, seeded, deveined and minced (optional)
- 2 full heads garlic, upper quarter removed
- 2 Tbsp chopped fresh cilantro (optional)
- 1 Tbsp lime juice
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp pepper
- 2 tsp olive oil
- 4 oz low fat cream cheese, softened
- 1/2 cup nonfat sour cream
If using fresh peppers, cut them in half lengthwise; remove and discard seeds and membrane. Place peppers, skin side up on a baking sheet, flatten with palm of hand. Broil 5-6” from heat 15 to 20 minutes or until blistered/charred. Place immediately into paper bag and allow to cool for about 20 minutes. When cool enough to handle, remove charred skin, cut peppers into strips and then chop the strips into coarse pieces. Set aside.
(If using jarred peppers, drain them thoroughly and pat them dry with paper towels. Then chop them up.)
While peppers are cooling, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Slice top quarter of garlic heads off. Rub about 1 tsp of olive oil into top of each head, then place the garlic, cut side down, on a foil-lined baking sheet on middle rack of oven. Sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper and roast until the cloves are soft and golden, 45 minutes to 1 hour. Remove from the oven and let sit until cool enough to handle. Squeeze each head of garlic to expel the cloves into a bowl. Mash into a paste (this should make about 3-4 Tbsp.) Set aside. (Don't your fingers smell wonderful now?)
Put sun-dried tomatoes in a bowl and pour boiling water over them; let stand 5 minutes, then drain. While tomatoes are soaking, devein and seed a jalapeno or two, and mince. This is optional; it's very good without any heat at all, or you can use as many peppers as the palate will bear.
Now is the time to pause for a moment, step outside and sip a beverage or smoke a cigarette while you ponder the great question: Do I want a smooth dip/spread or one with pretty little chunks of color and flavor bursts? Take your time, there's no hurry...
OK. If you want a smooth dip, place ALL of your ingredients (except the water!) into a blender and process until as smooth as you like it.
If you want some chunks, place everything except the tomatoes and red peppers into the blender and process until smooth. Transfer it to a bowl and stir in the chopped red peppers and tomatoes.
You can serve this immediately, but it's better if you put some plastic wrap over the top and refrigerate for a while. Up to 24 hours is fine; then bring to room temperature to serve.
Serve with chips, crackers, bread sticks, fresh veggies or spread it on hot toasted French bread rounds.
And don't say I never gave you anything! ;)
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