Friday, January 3, 2014

Marinated Roasted Peppers

It’s been proven time and time again: the simplest things are often the best, especially when it comes to food. Freshly roasted peppers are a prime example. Naturally sweet and slightly smoky, they need little more than a splash of quality olive oil and minced garlic to amplify their already-delicious flavor. Lemon zest and chopped fresh parsley are added to the above for Mediterranean-style marinated peppers that would taste great on a sandwich, but are just as well eaten by the spoonful – which is most likely what you will end up doing. To serve as a starter, lightly buttered toasts are the perfect platform.

Roasting peppers at home is almost as easy as opening up a jar (which isn’t always that easy, is it?) A jar doesn’t make your house smell quite as good either. The aroma and natural juices that escape from freshly roasted peppers all add up to their superior taste. A mixture of red, yellow and orange bell peppers make for a colorful display, although the orange ended up looking more yellow than the bright orange I was hoping for after being roasted. I steered away from green peppers simply because they are not as sweet as the others. The marinade is best left as simple as possible, but if you like a little spice, a few crushed red peppers flakes are a nice touch.

As for the toasts, they couldn’t be any easier. The uniform rectangle and golden color makes them look refined, but really it’s just buttered toast. And it doesn’t get any simpler than that.

Marinated Roasted Peppers
Yield: 2 cups
-  2 red bell peppers
- 1 each yellow and orange bell pepper
-  About 2 tablespoons regular olive oil
-  ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
-  1 large clove garlic, minced
-  1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
-  Lemon zest from 1 lemon
-  Salt and pepper to taste
-  About 5 slices of white bread, each cut into several rectangles
-  3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1) Preheat oven to 350° F. Rub the peppers with the regular olive oil until each are coated with a thin sheen. Wrap each pepper individually in foil. Place on a sheet tray and roast, turning occasionally, until tender, about 30-45 minutes.
2) Remove the roasted peppers from the foil, place in a large bowl and cover with plastic wrap to steam for about 10-15 minutes. Allow to cool slightly before removing the stems, seeds, and skins. Slice the peppers into thin strips.
3) In a bowl, combine the peppers, extra virgin olive oil, garlic, parsley, lemon, and salt and pepper to taste. Refrigerate.
4) Line the pieces of bread on a sheet tray and brush both sides with the melted butter. Toast in the 350° F oven for 8-10 minutes, turning over halfway. Serve the marinated roasted peppers with the toasts or any kind of bread/cracker/crostini.

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