Over breakfast one morning, one of us read a Los Angeles Times restaurant review for Marché Moderne in Costa Mesa, California. Our first thought was, “huh, a restaurant in the middle of the mall?” Since we had tickets to an upcoming ballet performance at the Orange County Performing Arts Center, and were looking for a pre-ballet dinner nearby, we decided to give it a try.
Let’s just say we’ve been back often enough to try most items on their menu, but not enough to break the bank… yet.
We have a habit of splitting our meals; a) because you get to try more stuff, b) the portions are friendlier, and c) it’s cheaper. OK, that’s a lie. We’ve never saved money by sharing meals. But, we do get more variety out of one sitting.
One of the first times we “shared” our meal was during this visit to Marché Moderne. On the menu: red pepper puree. Over time, we’ve played with the flavors. While there is little confidence that the puree below is even close to that first bowl, we’ve been told that it’s pretty awesome; so please enjoy.
How often do you split your plates? What are your reasons?
Roasted Red Pepper Puree
A simple puree of roasted red peppers, onions, carrot, celery and tomatoes. Optional: Top with a blend of cilantro and lime.
~ Serves ~
~ Ingredients ~
- 6 medium to large red bell peppers
- 2 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 medium brown onion, diced
- 3 cloves garlic, crushed
- 2 stalks celery, diced
- 1 large carrot, peeled and diced
- 1 quart vegetable broth
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves (or ½ tsp. dry thyme)
- 1 14-ounce can San Marzano tomatoes (or 1 tablespoon tomato paste)
- Optional: Cilantro and lime sauce from this recipe
~ Preparation ~
Preparation Time: 45 minutes
Pre-broil oven at 500º F. Cover 1-2 cookie sheets with aluminum foil and brush with olive oil (or spray with olive oil spray).
Cut the tops off of the bell peppers and quarter them lengthwise. Bell peppers are loosely shaped like a box. You want to cut them lengthwise at the “corner” of the box, so that when you lay the flesh down on the cookie sheet, they lay flat. This also makes them easier to peel. Discard all the seeds. Lay the bell pepper slices skin side up on the cookie sheet (as many as will fit without overlapping) and brush the skin with 1 tablespoon olive oil. Broil in the oven for about 10 minutes. Watch the peppers closely. The skin will boil, and eventually char to a black color. The peppers are done when all of the skin has turned black (and when you can smell them in the kitchen).
While the peppers are broiling, heat olive oil over medium heat. Cook onion, celery and carrots until softened, about 10 minutes.
Remove peppers from cookie sheet, and place in single layer (black side up) on a couple of dishes; freeze the dishes for about 15 minutes. (This makes the peeling process much easier.)
Add in garlic and thyme; cook for additional minute or two.
Add vegetable broth, can of tomatoes and bay leaf. Bring to boil and then reduce to a simmer.
Remove peppers from freezer. Peel and discard the skin. Once peeled, put the peppers into the soup.
After 30 minutes of simmering soup, remove bay leaf.
Puree soup with Vitamix or immersion blender and serve immediately. Garnish with cilantro lime sauce or dollop of sour cream and fresh chopped parsley and/or basil leaves, if desired.
Inspired by: Marché Moderne | Source: Rustic Garden Bistro
Nutrition content per serving: 154 calories, 17g carbs, 3g protein, 9g fat, 4g fiber
Cost per serving: $ 2.17