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.

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.

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.