Monday, October 1, 2012

One Great . . . roasted red pepper relish

Most of the year, recipes with red peppers are what I call "snorters." I look at the recipe, then look at the price of red sweet peppers, usually up around "worth their weight in gold." Then I snort with derision and either grab the cheaper green bell peppers or go without peppers all together.

But there is a brief time in early fall when there are suddenly red peppers everywhere. At the Charlotte Regional Farmers Market on Saturday, one farm stand had a big basket of beauties, all striped in various shades from green to red to yellow. And a price tag on the basket was one I liked even better: 16 for $4. That's more like it.

I grabbed a small bag and picked up another bag of small but meaty tomatoes that were the size of cherry tomatoes but promised more flavor. Then I searched my memory of good food writing and remembered that Regina Schrambling had run a nice piece on recently on Jacques Pepin's method for using roasted red peppers.

Regina adapted Jacques, I adapted Regina, and now I have a lovely pot of peppers and tomatoes in my refrigerator. I've already added them to sauteed zucchini, spread a few on a turkey sandwich, tossed some in a green salad and added a few tablespoons to scrambled eggs. Even the oil alone will find uses all over my cooking for a couple of weeks.

I'm definitely getting my money's worth from these babies.

Roasted Red Peppers and Tomatoes

Adapted from Regina Schrambling, who adapted it from Jacques Pepin, who probably wouldn't recognize it by the time I finished with it.

3 to 4 mostly red sweet peppers (AKA bell peppers)
About 2 cups small tomatoes
2 to 3 large cloves garlic, peeled and minced
Salt and pepper to taste
About 1/3 cup good-quality olive oil

Preheat oven to 500 degrees, then turn on the broiler. (Or just heat the broiler, depending on your oven.) Place an oven rack close to the broiler element. Place the whole peppers and tomatoes on a baking sheet and place under the broiler. Broiler, turning the peppers occasionally with tongs, until the skin is blacked or well-blistered and the skins of the tomatoes show black spots. (I left mine get much darker then the ones in the picture at the top.)

Remove from the oven. Using tongs, drop the peppers in a paper or plastic bag, close and let them steam for a minute. Just leave the tomatoes on the baking sheet and let them cool for a few minutes, then grab the skin of each with the tongs and pull most of it away. Remove the peppers from the bag, pull out and discard the core with the seeds attached, then pull away and discard the papery skin.

In a glass container with a tight-fitting lid (or use a bowl and cover tightly with plastic wrap), layer some of the tomatoes and pieces of peppers, then sprinkle with garlic and a little salt. Continue layering in the container. Pour the olive oil over it all, cover and refrigerate.

Use peppers and tomatoes on bruschetta, in a salad, with eggs, or pretty much anywhere you want. Also use the oil to add flavor when you saute vegetables.

Makes about 2 cups. Keeps in the refrigerator for a couple of weeks.