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Wednesday, 23 July 2008

Roasted peppers (Ψητές πιπεριές)

Just when I thought I had emptied the fridge of fresh produce - some got cooked and eaten, others were canned or frozen, and a few others were given away to a good home - another vegetable glut comes in:
  • 43 tomatoes
  • 27 aubergine
  • 4 green bell peppers
  • 7 long red peppers
  • 22 banana green peppers (not the hot variety),
  • 5 cucumbers
  • 13 zucchini
Not to mention a bag full of plums from a neighbour and a bunch of amaranth that I had already started preparing for the midday meal. This does not include the purslane-rocket pesto and puttanesca sauces I made for the evening meal when the children come home after their swimming lessons.

red peppers florinis

I used to worry that I wouldn't be able to deal with it; I've heard many of my friends complain to me that they can't eat vegetables every day. Thankfully we can, and so today, I had a vegetable preparation marathon. The fridge is now looking like a tapas bar. Lunch is going to include a whole lot of meze meals: aubergine dip, tzatziki, cucumber strips, kalitsounia with vlita, zucchini patties, and finally, the pride of place going to roasted peppers.

We grow three varieties of pepper in our garden:
  • green bell peppers for Greek salad, yemista, and anywhere that capsicum is used
  • small long green peppers that look like hot chili peppers (but they aren't hot at all) which we use mainly in salads
  • long red peppers (known in Greece as Florinis, due to the place which became famous for growing them) which are delicious in salads, used with aubergine in imam baldi or roasted in the oven
roasted peppers

Red Florinis peppers (I have also used green bell peppers for added colour) are roasted till their skin is charred (the brown vegetables are aubergines - I roasted them at the same time to make melitzanosalata), after which it is peeled off. It's best to do this when they are hot from the oven, otherwise the skin does not peel off easily. I find that the best way is to peel it off while holding them under a tap of cold running water. The peppers are then de-seeded (both the skins and seeds are unpalatable), and arranged on a plate. Minced garlic, vinegar and olive oil are poured over them - they are not salted. I like to mince the garlic with the vinegar in a mouli; the vinegar takes on the aroma of the garlic, and the oil makes the peppers glisten. They store well in the fridge in a covered container; they do not need to be eaten all at once.

Roasted peppers can be added to salads, simple pasta dishes, pesto sauces, a few among many other meals that these peppers are used in. They are a fantastic side dish for any grilled meat or fish, as well as all soupy bean dishes. But on their own, they cannot be beaten: try them with some good cheese and a slice of bread. Bring out a hearty Greek salad and a glass of chilled white wine: ambrosia!

roasted peppers

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