Summer Obsession: Roasted Peppers

My summer obsession: roasted peppers. I wake up in the middle of the night dreaming about them: sweet, tangy, colorful, juicy. Luckily they are incredibly easy to make and impossible to screw up. They’re delicious cold, room temp and warm and they’re even better a few days after you make them, which is the best kind of recipe. These are fabulous on an antipasto platter alongside cheese, Italian cold cuts and pepperoncini; and delicious on crostini with alongside ricotta or mascarpone and a sprinkling of parsley. Saute Italian sausage and onions, then add some of these peppers and diced tomatoes and you’ve got a quick and super yummy pasta sauce. Or simply add a few to a sandwich or a pizza. Like a lot of kids out there, Luca is suspicious of their “vegetable-y and slimey” texture, but he’ll put up with them if I cut them in small and don’t draw too much attention to them. Maybe your little eaters will too.

Ingredients: Sweet Peppers any color but green (choose flat sided ones); Olive Oil; Sea Salt or Kosher Salt; Garlic Powder

  1. Wash your peppers and just leave them whole, stems and all. Choose flat sided peppers if you can because they get more surface contact with the grill and char more evenly.
  2. Throw them on a dry grill plan or cast iron skillet on the stove. You can also do them on your outdoor grill or under the broiler. Using high heat char them on all sides. Let them get really black. It takes a while, so just keep turning them from time to time.
  3. Set the peppers in a bowl and cover tightly with plastic wrap and let them come to room temperature.
  4. Uncover the bowl. The skins should slip off easily. Remove the stems and open up the peppers with your hands, keeping them as in tact as possible, and remove the seeds. It’s tempting to want to rinse them with water, but try not to because you’ll lose a lot of flavor. My friend Christian’s trick is to “wash” the peppers by swishing them around in their own collected juice.
  5. Once you have them cleaned up, tear them by hand (way, way better than cutting them with a knife). Drizzle generously with good quality olive oil, then sprinkle with sea salt or kosher salt. I usually give them a few good shakes of garlic powder for good measure. Toss them well. They should be nice and juicy.

You could eat them right away, but the flavor is even better if you cover them and let them sit overnight in the refrigerator. They’ll keep for a week for sure, but they never last that long with me around. Buon Appetito!

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You Need to Make This! Jackson Fillmore’s Zucchini Carpaccio

Jackson Fillmore is one of our favorite casual little trattorias in San Francisco. It’s the kind of place where we have fallen in love with certain dishes and, despite being tempted to try a special or something new off the menu, we always end up ordering the same thing. One of the dishes we always get is the zucchini carpaccio, a simple and delicious starter of zucchini, toasted almonds, pecorino cheese and parsley. It’s really, really delicious. I might even add one more “really” for good measure.

I recently threw a bridal shower and thought it would be a perfect addition to the summery buffet I had planned. As luck would have it, I found that Jackson Fillmore had posted an excellent video on this very dish and how to make it.  I love this recipe so much I wanted to share it with all of you. There is minimal cooking involved, just the toasting of almonds (they use slivers, I like sliced). As the video points out, the way you cut the zucchini and the pecorino is the key to the dish. After some of my own experimentation, I like the end result of cutting the zucchini on the bias in slices about 1/8″ thick and then stacking and cutting the slices on the bias again into matchsticks. As far as the pecorino goes, just shave it into curls with a vegetable peeler.

A lot of little ones I know seem to like the flavor of dry, salty cheeses like Parmegiano Reggiano and Pecorino. So as long as you have no nut allergies to contend with, this would be a great one to add to your repertoire. You can get older kids into the act by having them make the cheese curls and tossing everything all together at the end (in the video, he tosses everything in a hot pan, but I usually add the toasted almonds to a bowl with the zucchini and toss off-heat).

This dish is best served right away while everything is still warm and toasty from the almonds, but you could definitely cut the zucchini and shave the pecorino a bit in advance to simplify things as you’re putting the rest of dinner together.

Give it a try.  You’ll love it!

Video Courtesy of Jackson Fillmore.