Food nomenclature can get very confusing. What the British call chicory, in France is endive, and vice versa. The Americans talk about corn, which is what the Brits think of as sweetcorn, and what they call corn, the Yanks call wheat. Lolly in Australia, meanwhile, is any kind of sweetie or candy, while to me, British to the core, a lolly is something on a stick.
But I digress. Tarator is what we have here. In the Balkans that would mean a chilled cucumber soup, and in many Middle Eastern countries tarator is a sesame sauce or dip. But this is a Turkish-style mezze, and this is what (I hope) a Turk would recognise as tarator, that’s to say a nubbly, savoury sauce made with walnuts and bread. Usually served with fish (try it with red mullet) it’s excellent with grilled peppers too. To eat this as a starter, gently mix the pepper strips with a handful of wild rocket and top each helping with a little tarator.
Serves four as a starter or part of a mezze
4 peppers (red, yellow and orange)
6 tablespoons olive oil
50g white or brown bread (remove the crusts before weighing)
1 garlic clove, roughly chopped
50g shelled walnuts
1 teaspoon red or white wine vinegar
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Cut the peppers in half and pull out the seeds, membranes and stalk. Press down flat, then grill, skin side up, until blistered and patched with black. Put them in a bowl and cover with a plate. Leave to cool, then strip off all the skin.
Cut the flesh into strips. Toss with 2 tablespoons olive oil and leave to one side.
Tear the bread into chunks and put in a food-processor with the garlic. Whizz to crumbs, then add the walnuts and process again until the walnuts are ground. Add the rest of the olive oil, and process again.
With the motor running, pour in 4 tablespoons of water and the vinegar. Add a little more water if necessary to make a soft spooning consistency. Taste and season with salt and pepper.
Arrange the peppers on a plate. Dollop on some of the tarator and scatter with coriander leaves. Serve the rest of the tarator in a separate bowl.
Taken from: The Contented Cook by Xanthe Clay, out now from Kyle Books at £19.99
Photography: Tara Fisher