Tonight’s dinner was one of the best kind: romantic, inexpensive, and no cooking involved. I bought all the ingredients for this cheese plate from Wheatsville Co-op and Greenling, but you can find Texas artisan cheeses and fresh produce at almost any farmers’ market in Austin. The whole presentation was ready from fridge to table in less than 10 minutes, except for the pepper relish which I made the night before.
Tip: Wheatsville Co-op will often place very small pieces of local and other sustainably-produced cheeses in a basket together in the cheese cooler. These odds and ends are typically less than $2 each and they’re a great way to try new cheeses and plan a sustainable, ultra romantic date night for under $10.
Red Pepper Relish (yields about one cup)
6-8 sweet or hot bell peppers, seeded and cored
1 yellow onion
1 cup white wine vinegar
1 cup white sugar
1-2 tsp. red pepper flakes
Chop the vegetables and put them in a medium saucepan with the sugar, vinegar and red pepper flakes. Bring mixture to a boil and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 45 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool to room temperature. Transfer to an airtight container and refrigerate overnight before serving.
The texture of this relish is not as thick as commercially processed relishes which use cornstarch or corn syrup for consistency. If prepared correctly, the peppers are soft and sweet, and the relish will be about the consistency of pancake syrup. It’s terrific on sandwiches, in tuna salad, and served as a dip over top of cream cheese or chevre.