Consider this the other red sauce: naturally sweet red bell peppers, preferably organic, roasted with garlic until nicely charred, whirred in a blender until smooth, then married with a dollop or two of creamy, decadent butter. Caramelizing the ruby red beauties renders them even sweeter, creating the perfect complement for pasta, roasted veggies or just about anything grilled.
As you probably already know, red bells are one of the most healthful veggies one could lust after. Swoon for vitamins A, C, and B-6, along with lycopene and all those free-radical-fighting antioxidants. A bit of roasted garlic and extra-virgin olive oil make the super sauce a super food.
As we couldn’t go wrong, we’re pairing the sauce with blissfully buttery sea bass. To go with, try grilled asparagus or just-wilted spinach tossed with feta.
The Other Red Sauce
Makes about 1-1/2 cups
4 large red bell peppers
2 cloves garlic, peeled and left whole
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Coarse salt and freshly ground cracked pepper, to taste
Herbs de Provence, to taste
3/4 cup chicken stock
3 tablespoons butter, cut into small pieces
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
4 sea bass fillets
2 tablespoons fennel seeds, toasted
Coarse salt, freshly ground black pepper, to taste
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Juice of 1 lime
Make the sauce:
Preheat oven to 450˚F. Cut peppers into quarters, removing stems and seeds. Mist a roasting pan or large casserole with olive oil; add peppers and garlic. Toss with olive oil, salt, pepper and herbs de Provence.
Roast for about 45 minutes, tossing after 20 minutes. When nicely charred, remove from oven and cool. Pulse peppers, garlic and chicken stock in a food processor or blender until smooth.
Add pureed peppers to a saucepan and heat over medium heat. When sauce begins to simmer, stir in butter. If sauce is too thick, add a bit more chicken stock. Remove from heat, add lemon and taste for seasoning. Adjust as necessary, adding more salt, pepper, additional butter or lemon. Set aside and keep warm.
For sea bass:
Preheat oven to 350˚F. Rinse fillets and pat dry.
Heat a dry skillet over medium-high heat. When pan is hot, add fennel seeds and roast until fragrant, shaking to toast evenly (seeds should turn golden). Remove seeds from pan. Using a mortar and pestle or spice mill, crush with salt and pepper. Rub fillets with mixture.
Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat and add olive oil. When oil is shimmering, add fillets and sear until nicely browned, about 2 minutes per side. Finish in the oven, baking for 15 to 20 minutes more.
Remove fillets from the oven, giving each a squeeze of lime juice. Serve with warm sauce.
Diva Note: There will be plenty of sauce leftover to use with another dish, or freeze the remainder. We are leaving the skins on the peppers, but if you prefer, roast peppers whole; peel, seed and puree.