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Roasted Red Pepper Purée with Garlic, Lemon and Basil (Sauce or Dip)

Makes about 1 cup

I love roasted red peppers, and the sauce they make when puréed is delicious with seafood, chicken, pork, turkey or pasta. It is even good served as a dip or spread with vegetables, chips or toasts. I have started cutting my peppers in half instead of roasting them whole, which is a little more convenient under a broiler, and takes half the time to char. Although this recipe is quick and very easy, if you are really pressed for time, use store-bought roasted red peppers. The fennel seeds are optional, but are very good, especially when serving with fish, as in the grilled fish recipe in the similar and related recipes links.

Ingredients

Preheat broiler on high. Place the peppers, skin side up, on a baking sheet with shallow sides. (I always cover the pan with foil for easy cleanup.) Place the garlic on a separate piece of foil, drizzle with a little olive oil, and close tightly. Place on the baking sheet. Position the oven rack so that the peppers will be only a couple inches below the broiling element. Broil the peppers until well charred, about 10 minutes, rotating the pan half way through. Remove from oven and turn off the broiler. Return the garlic packet to the oven and close the door to soften more while the peppers rest. Cover the peppers with foil and let set about 10 minutes, or until cool enough to handle. Remove the skin and cut into pieces. Place all of the ingredients, including the garlic but not the basil, into a mini processor or blender. Process, pulsing as needed, until puréed. Place in a small bowl and stir in the basil. Taste for seasoning. Serve at room temperature.

Notes: The sauce can be made ahead, covered and refrigerated for several days. Bring back to room temperature before serving.