The offerings are bleak in the produce isle these days. Bleak and expensive. We are down to the last of our home grown potatoes and there are one or two winter squash left. I am fortunate that my locally owned grocery store actually puts less than perfect, overly ripe, slightly bruised produce into the deep discount bin. On any given day, I might find ripe bananas perfect for making breads or muffins, overly ripe tomatoes excellent for sauces and exotic mushrooms for soup. Yesterday, I hit the mother load of peppers – red, yellow, orange and green – cheap, cheap, cheap. I picked up an armful and walked directly past the overly expensive and uninspiring lettuces; a smug grin covering my face. We have been lead to believe that an imperfect (insert name of fruit or vegetable here) is somehow less desirable that an perfect waxed one. Grow your own vegetables and you will discover and enjoy misshapen carrots, potatoes and overly large cabbage. I am constantly surprised by those bagged and manufactured “baby” carrots which are, in fact, large carrots put in a tumbler to shape and make them into perfect “baby” carrots.
What started out as an uninspiring winter menu turned into a winter table alive with colourful peppers.
Peppers are a good source of Vitamin A. The first record of the bell or sweet pepper (Capsicum annuum) in the Mediterranean is after Columbus’s voyage to the new world. In his January 15, 1493, journal Columbus named these peppers “pimiento” after the black peppercorns he had been seeking. This is how they became to be known as “peppers”.
If you have any left over roasted red pepper salad, it makes a delicious sandwich with tarragon mustard, roasted artichokes and smoked gouda. Jump down to the bottom of the page and have a look for yourself.
Roasted Pepper Salad
(serves 4 – 6 as a main course. Many more as part of a tapas plate)
3 or 4 yellow, green, orange or red bell peppers
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar
3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley
1 clove garlic, minced
1. Roast peppers over an open flame or in broiler, turning frequently until skins are charred and blistered. Place charred peppers in a plastic bag and let sit for 5 minutes. Remove skins. It should be easy.
2. Tear peppers in half over your serving dish to catch the juices. They should neatly tear along the ribs. Remove seeds and stems. Tear lengthwise along ribs.
3. Pour olive oil and vinegar over peppers. Add parsley and garlic and mix it altogether gently with your hands. Arrange the peppers neatly in your serving dish if you so desire.
4. Serve immediately or marinate at room temperature for several hours.
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My mouth watering, juicy with leftovers, sandwich!