July 16, 2019
With heat in the air and markets full of vegetables, an idea or two on healthy vegetable meals is always welcome, even for those who cannot get through the week without a steak.
What every sandwich must include is a spread, some umami taste and salad. In case you haven’t been following the taste science in the last few decades, apparently people can taste much more than just the four flavours we used to learn in school: sweet, sour salty and bitter. The fifth flavour is umami or savoury, the flavour of “cooked meat”, a sensation also triggered by glutamate- flavour enhancers found in Pringles and common in East Asian cuisine. It has been established that in combination with umami, much less salt is needed to achieve a certain desired effect of saltiness.
The vegetables with most of the umami flavour (natural, not added) are mushrooms, in particular, shiitake. We had no mushrooms, unfortunately, so we took a courgette. To make it up for all the missing umami, we used more salt and olive oil and placed all our bets on the spread instead.
A lover of Sichuan cuisine might have noticed not just the excessive use of hot peppers but the sweet savoury sensation of deep stir friend red peppers as well. We might conclude that the idea found its way to Europe in the form of goulash and satarash from Asia, if we didn’t know it actually came from the new world in the “Columbian Exchange” much later on.
Red peppers in a combination with walnuts became the basis for a famous Levantine dip known as Muhammara, which is what we chose for our spread.
So, let’s get to work.
Red pepper walnut spread:
The red pepper variety that is normally used in the dip we are making is bell peppers, which are then peeled after roasting. I don’t know where or why this preference came about, as pimentos (red peppers with a pointy tip) are so much better for roasting and also have a much thinner skin, which doesn’t need to be peeled at all.
The process is simple: Blend the roasted peppers with all the ingredients listed above. If the mixture is too dry and doesn’t blend smoothly, add more olive oil, or add walnuts in several stages. Taste while making it to decide whether more salt, lemon juice or spice is needed.
Once the peppers are done, you can replace them with other vegetables and make use of already hot oven. Alternatively, vegetables can be roasted in a pan or barbequed.
Now you can spread the red pepper dip on your bread or use it as a dip.
We made a sandwich first.
Then we added a bit of a dip on the top of it for every bite we made