SOFT PEPPERS IN A SUMMER SAUCE
If this site has a spiritual godfather, it’s Nigel Slater. The popular British “cookery” writer pens a weekly column in the Guardian — and has authored many of the most dogeared cookbooks on my kitchen shelf. I’m particularly fond of The Kitchen Diaries, the U.S. edition of which was released in 2006, and which details a year in Slater’s culinary life through evocative journal-style essays, seasonal recipes, and simple photographs. His prose is candid and recipes uncomplicated — and the whole thing satisfies a bit of my Anglophilia while at the same time being perfectly adaptable to my own ramshackle life.
This recipe — truly just golden peppers roasted until charred and silken, stripped of their skin, and bathed in a quick garden herb and green olive oil sauce — happens to be cribbed and adapted from one of Slater’s most recent columns, and is the kind of fresh, effortless ode to midsummer produce at which he really excells. On their own, the peppers are a seductive sidekick to kabobs. Or: add few creamy cubes of mozzarella (as I have here) and a a bed of lemon-tossed Israeli couscous and you’ve scored a sweat-free vegetarian supper.
2 large yellow peppers
2 large orange peppers
5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 1/2 cups fresh basil leaves + 1 tsp for garnish
1/2 cup fresh mint leaves
3 large cloves garlic
4 oz. fresh mozzarella, cut into 1/2″ cubes
1/2 teapsoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1. Set the broiler. Slice each pepper in half across the center and trim out the membranes and seeds inside. Place clean peppers into a baking dish, skin side up, and drizzle with 2 tablespoons olive oil. Place under the broiler for 10 minutes, or until their skin has begun to blacken and blister. If the peppers are not done, rotate them so they char evenly, and continue broiling for another few minutes.
2. Remove charred peppers from the oven and cover baking dish with a clean dish towel. Allow to sit for 10 minutes, so that the peppers cool and steam under the towel. Then peel the charred skin from the peppers and discard it. Place peeled peppers back into baking dish.
3. Place basil, mint, garlic and remaining olive oil into a blender or food processor. Puree until smooth, about 1 minute. Add salt and pepper and pulse again to combine.
4. Drizzle basil sauce over peppers. Scatter mozzarella around the baking dish between the peppers. Place dish back under the broiler for 5 minutes, until the peppers are warm and the mozzarella has begun to soften and melt slightly. Garnish with 1 teaspoon of shredded basil. Serve warm.