Red Pepper Paste
5 lbs red bell peppers (less if desired)
This is a very simple recipe: cut the peppers in half and put them in the oven for ten hours at 180 degrees until they are caramelized, and prune-like. .
This is the kind of recipe that requires some practice. My first time wasn’t a success, and every time they’re a little bit different, so you have to totally expect that.
Starting at the top with the stem, cut in half down to the bottom, the long way. Remove and discard the stem and the seeds. .
Place the pepper halves on a sheet pan in a single layer and place in a 180-degree oven. The idea is for the peppers to cook, break down some, and get the caramelized effect without drying out. I don’t usually add olive oil, but if after several hours they seem dry, add a glug of olive oil and toss the peppers. Then lay them back down singly. Cook them until done, which usually takes around ten hours. Check them every couple of hours and as they start to caramelize, move them around a little. After they have been in the oven five hours, check every hour and move around if they’re sticking to the pan. You will know they are done when they get a little darker, shriveled up, soft and caramelized, but not charred or too dark. For me, it’s between 9-10 hours. Think prune.
After cooking, I grind them, leaving the skins on, then store in a jar. I don’t typically add oil, but when you grind them, if they are too dry, add some to help break them down. Good for 2 weeks in the refrigerator. Use in place of tomato paste or a big spoonful in addition.