When I have friends and family over for dinner, I love to have everyone in the kitchen talking and keeping me company as I am putting last minute touches on the main meal. While each person has a refreshing drink in hand, I put one or two appetizers out on my kitchen island for folks to nibble on.
This creamy goat cheese dip fits the bill while adding a little exotic flavour with middle eastern pepper flakes.
I adapted this recipe from the book Spice: Flavors of the Eastern Mediterranean by Ana Sortun. I substituted soft goat cheese for the feta in the original recipe. The goat cheese is less salty than feta but has a creamier texture and gives a slightly tart addition to the dish.
The first middle eastern chili flake is Aleppo pepper, which is a Syrian chili pepper. A beautiful bright orange-red colour with a medium hotness level. The Urfa chili pepper is a dark smoky, milder pepper from Turkey. These two chilies together give a nice colour combination to the goat cheese dip, especially when sprinkled on the finished product.
The ingredients are goat cheese, sweet red peppers, smoked paprika, Aleppo chilies and Urfa chilies, lemon juice and olive oil.
The peppers have to be roasted and peeled. This is not a difficult process. Cut the peppers in half and remove the seeds. Cover them in a little olive oil and put them in a pre-heated oven at 400 degrees C for about 25 minutes until softened and the skin is charred all over.
When they are ready, take them out of the oven and put in a bowl and cover for 5 minutes. In this time, the skin will loosen and it is easy to scrape off with a knife. To save time in the future, you can prepare more than two at a time and once peeled, they freeze well in freezer bags until your next recipe.
Everything is pureed together in a food processor until very smooth. Sprinkle a few flakes of both chili peppers and serve with your favourite cracker. Sweet, spicy, tart and creamy. Really tasty. Give it a try.
Goat Cheese with Sweet and Hot Peppers
2 113 gram packages of soft goat cheese (about 1 lb. of cheese)
2 red bell peppers, roasted, peeled, seeded and coarsely chopped
2 tsp. Aleppo Chilies
1 tsp. dried Urfa chilies
1/2 tsp. smoked paprika, more to taste
1 tsp. lemon juice
1/4 cup olive oil
- Combine all ingredients in a food processor until very smooth.
- Taste for seasoning, for more heat, add Aleppo chilies; for more smokiness, add paprika.
- Scoop into a serving bowl and chill for about 1/2 hour.
- Sprinkle on more Aleppo and Urfa chili pepper for presentation and serve with crackers or vegetables sticks.