roasted red pepper and pine nut dip

My husband and I love entertaining, but the sad truth is that we just don’t do it very often. Until about two years ago, we lived in a very small house and it never felt right for entertaining. The hang up was probably all mine, in retrospect. I felt very cramped and claustrophobic in that house. Add in a handful of other people and I just wasn’t a happy hostess.


We moved into our current house just shy of two years ago, and it’s much bigger, with plenty of room to entertain. I even hosted my work Christmas party here last year and it went really well. Plenty of room to spread out and — the biggest upside — I never felt cramped.

roasted red peppers

We finally have the space to entertain, but now there are lots of other reasons why we don’t host more parties.  Our two children are at the top of the list. We hate to disrupt their schedule, you know? Then there is the time factor. It’s hard to entertain when you work all week and really only have the weekends to prepare. And then, the house is always messy, so who could possibly entertain when the house is never clean enough, right?

I know, I know. These are all just sad excuses. I get that. The kids are much more adaptable than I give them credit for. It doesn’t really take THAT much time to prepare for a party, and a lot of it can be done in advance. And, the truth is, if we set a date for an event, the house WILL be clean by then. It just will be.

pine nuts

salt & spices

My husband and I have made a pledge to ourselves to at least start off with hosting a dinner party or cocktail hour sometime soon. Of course, no date is set yet, but we’re working on it.

In the meantime, I made a favorite appetizer last weekend – roasted red pepper dip. A few years ago, I made the recipe in the The New Best Recipe cookbook, and I really liked it. This recipe came from Gourmet magazine, the August 2009 issue. It’s very simple and takes just a handful of minutes to throw together. The only change I made was to use pine nuts instead of walnuts. This dish can also be made up to three days in advance, a real bonus if you have all the entertaining excuses that I have (see above). I’ll definitely make this one again.


I think that the color is very striking, but it scared the kids off. They refused to eat it, or even taste it, because of the reddish-orange hue. I think that if I served it with hot dogs, they might have tried it, but then again, maybe not. Perhaps they’ll eat non-brown food once they are teenagers. My fingers are crossed.

I’d love to know about your ideas for great make-ahead appetizers or recipes for entertaining. Any favorite go-to recipes or tricks of the trade?


Yield: Approx 3 cups.

Roasted Red Pepper & Pine Nut Dip


2 jars of roasted red peppers [or you could roast your own red peppers]
1 cup coarse fresh breadcrumbs, from a baguette
1 cup toasted pine nuts
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/8 teaspoon cayenne
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil


Puree all ingredients except for the olive oil in a food processor until blended and almost smooth. With the food processor running, add olive oil in a slow stream until fully incorporated.

Only slightly adapted from Gourmet, August 2009, recipe here.

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11 Responses to “roasted red pepper and pine nut dip”

  1. 1
    Trissa — April 13, 2010 @ 1:30 am

    I adore roasted red peppers – the minute I saw this, I knew what a winning combination. Bravo on your decision to entertain more. I certainly know how that feels when you just need that little push to start on something but believe me, everyone who lives near you reading this must already be eargerly anticipating an invitation!

  2. 2
    Summer — April 13, 2010 @ 7:58 am

    U have a wonderful blog here and am loving this dip, am suprised it scared the kiddies but honestly a few seasons ago ,when i had my first green capsicum , i was petrified too , sitting on moms lap , she cajoled me it wasnt my dreaded chilly, :-))))
    And boy i was stumped that a green looking chilly thingy ,aint a chilly ,i still dont fancy chillies unless they are the sweet variety…
    And ur right,if the amazing dip goes into a sandwhich,its great!!!
    High on flav ,outa sight!!!!
    I lve canapes for cocktails , u can make fillings as far as ur imagination goes and have a platter of garnishes and use ur fondue pot with all those cutey plates ,to place all the fillings and have a make ur own canape corner:-)))
    Canape shells can be made ahead or store bought!!!

  3. 3
    Summer — April 13, 2010 @ 8:01 am

    And love those CC cookies too…..

  4. 4
    Maria — April 13, 2010 @ 2:41 pm

    I love the color of this dip. Great snack or appetizer!

  5. 5
    merrygourmet — April 13, 2010 @ 6:40 pm

    Trissa – Part of why I put it out there like that is because now my friends will hold me to my pledge. There’s no backing out. 🙂

    Summer – Glad you enjoyed the posts! Welcome.

    Maria – The color is pretty fantastic, isn’t it? It was hard to keep my fingers out if it – it is definitely perfect for snacking on.

  6. 6
    Azra Bihorac — April 14, 2010 @ 11:38 am

    Love the recipe. I am a great fan of both red peppers and pine nuts…I have a lot of different uses for red peppers…
    In regard to entertaining you just have to do it! I regularly have parties and it is my “personal relaxing time” although when you look from outside you might think that you are watching “Hell’s Kitchen”…
    My key to success-always have your house lady there from the morning of the event-she helps me to clean as I cook and she never objects or get offended by my instructions/orders as my husband does…
    Plan, plan, plan – well in advance-cooking for a crowd and multiple courses asks for a real discipline and good preparation…
    Kids-kids are easy-Extended baby sitter always work well…
    Finally, you have to make to one of my parties!

  7. 7
    Liren — April 14, 2010 @ 2:05 pm

    Wow, this is absolutely stunning. Both the recipe and the photos! I love the color, and I adore the flavors of both red peppers and pine nuts. What a great substitution of pine nuts for walnuts – it’s like a red pepper pesto! I’ll have to make this the next time we entertain 🙂

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  9. 8
    merrygourmet — April 14, 2010 @ 8:41 pm

    Azra – thanks for the tips! I definitely need to make it to one of your events sometime. Looking forward to it!

    Liren – Red pepper pesto…I like that!

  10. 9
    Adrienne — November 19, 2010 @ 12:05 pm

    What do you think it would be like without the bread crumbs? Thinking of making this for Thanksgiving, but would like to do it gluten free.

    • 9.1
      mj (merry gourmet)
      mj (merry gourmet) — November 19, 2010 @ 12:29 pm

      Adrienne – I’m sure you could do it without the breadcrumbs or perhaps with some good gluten-free bread or crackers. The breadcrumbs seemed to provide body and texture to the dip.

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