roasted red pepper salad
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I know – you can buy them in supermarkets, not too dear and without too many additives. Spanish piquilo pimientos asados in oil, whole or in strips, jarred or tinned are really nice and easy: open the jar, fish out the meaty, fleshy fillets and toss into whatever salad you fancy.
So why bother to make them from scratch? I’m not a scratchist – I don’t make puff pastry at home and I use ready-cooked lentils, tinned chickpeas and pumpkin puree quite happily. But this is quite simply a hugely enjoyable process.
First you burn the peppers. I did used to char them over the gas flame but it was tricky to avoid burning off the stem and dropping the whole pepper. Gas grill was satisfactory as you could literally watch the peppers blacken under the flame, but I have only electric grill now so that has to do. The skin needs to blister at the least, blacken completely at the most; even if it looks burnt it’s all right. Slide them into a plastic bag for half an hour so they sweat and loosen up the skin, and then the best bit awaits: peeling off the skin.
What can I say? It’s a primal experience, like peeling blisters, picking scab or eating a Jaffa cake layer by layer. It’s seriously messy – the largest wooden board you have and lots of paper towels will be involved.
The peppers actually will keep very well in oil or the type of dressing I suggested below; you can jar them and they will keep even longer. Or will they? Like hell. Too tasty by half to last more than one meal.
roasted red pepper saladServings: 2-4Time: about an hour plus chilling
- 2 large red bell peppers
- 30g (1oz.) Pecorino cheese
- 30g (1oz.) Delice de Bourgogne or soft goats’ cheese
- fresh basil leaves, to garnish
- For the dressing:
- 1 garlic clove, peeled
- 1 tsp sea salt
- 3 tbsp. olive oil
- 1 tbsp. honey
- ½ tsp cinnamon
- ½ tsp smoked paprika
- 1 lemon, juice only
1. Preheat the grill to its highest setting. Prepare a plastic bag large enough to fit the peppers.
2. Place the peppers on a roasting tray lined with foil. Place them as high as possible under the grill and roast for about 5 minutes on each side, turning with tongs, until the skin is charred and blistered all over. Remove them from the grill and put in the plastic bag to sweat, for 30 minutes.
3. In the meantime prepare the dressing: crush the garlic with the salt in pestle and mortar. Transfer to a bowl (unless your mortar is very large), add the other ingredients and whisk into emulsion.
4. Take the peppers out of the bag onto a wooden board. Remove the core and seeds, and peel the skin off; it’s a very messy job. Cut the skinned peppers into large strips and place in the bowl with the dressing. Marinate for at least 30 minutes or several hours in the fridge.
5. To serve, divide the peppers between serving plates or bowls, crumble the cheeses over them and sprinkle with basil leaves.