The Culture of Food and Drink


Home / Cooking  / 4 Antipasti To Capture Bell Peppers’ Peak Of Perfection

4 Antipasti To Capture Bell Peppers’ Peak Of Perfection

Red and green bell peppers for late-summer antipasti. Credit: Copyright 2013 Wynne Everett

Red and green bell peppers for late-summer antipasti. Credit: Copyright 2013 Wynne Everett

Eating seasonally has been the rule of thumb for cooks for millennia. But if you were to read the food blogosphere, you would think that it was just discovered. And now that we are in the early fall, there are certain foods you can tell are in season because they’re inexpensive and abundant at the farmers market. Of course, if you have a garden, you know that too.

It’s a bit more difficult to tell what’s happening seasonally at supermarkets because supermarkets don’t follow seasons as they provide consumers foods all year round, often imported from far away, such as those grapes from Chile.

I am not slavish to the seasons, but I tend to stick somewhat closely to the best local and seasonal produce. I do so gastronomically rather than out of any political correctness. The reason is simple: They taste better.

There’s one vegetable that is rather prominent now in my local Southern California farmers markets and my little roof-top garden: bell peppers. I like them ripe and red, and I often serve them in an Italian style as an antipasto. Here are four very simple ways of preparing red bell pepper antipasti. I usually serve them before the main course, which in the early fall is still quite often grilled foods.

Roasted Green And Red Bell Peppers With Toscano Salami

Roasted red and green bell peppers with Toscano salami Credit: Copyright 2015 Clifford A. Wright

Roasted red and green bell peppers with Toscano salami Credit: Copyright 2015 Clifford A. Wright

The natural sweetness of bell peppers can flavor many other foods, and that’s why I like to serve this antipasto before plainer or simply cooked meats. The Toscano salami is available in Italian markets and some supermarkets. It has a darker color with larger, but fewer, chunks of fat than the common Genoa salami. Use whatever salami is available. Choose large and fleshy bell peppers for this dish.

Prep time: 5 minutes

Cook time: 20 minutes

Total time: 25 minutes

Yield: 6 servings

Ingredients

4 green bell peppers

1 red bell pepper

8 slices Toscano salami, each slice cut in half

1 large garlic clove, very finely chopped

1 tablespoon finely chopped onion

1/4 teaspoon dried oregano

1/4 teaspoon fennel seed

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 teaspoon pine nuts

4 salted anchovy fillets, rinsed (optional)

Directions

1. Place the peppers on a wire rack over a burner on high heat and roast until their skins blister black on all sides, turning occasionally with tongs. Remove the peppers and place into a paper or heavy plastic bag to steam for 20 minutes, which will make them easier to peel. When the peppers are cool enough to handle, rub off as much blackened peel as you can and remove the seeds by rubbing with a paper towel (to avoid washing away flavorful juices) or by rinsing under running water (to remove more easily).

2. Cut the peppers into thin strips and arrange on a platter. Surround the peppers with the halves of salami. Sprinkle the peppers with the garlic, onion, oregano, fennel seed, olive oil and pine nuts. Place the anchovy fillets on top, if desired, and serve at room temperature.

Roasted Red, Yellow, Green Bell Peppers In Olive Oil, Oregano, Anchovies

Roasted red, yellow and green bell peppers in olive oil, anchovies and oregano. Credit: Copyright 2015 Clifford A. Wright

Roasted red, yellow and green bell peppers in olive oil, anchovies and oregano. Credit: Copyright 2015 Clifford A. Wright

This colorful antipasto platter is perfect for a large buffet table. In Italy, trattorie will put these tables outdoors (fuori tavola) and sometimes allow their customers to serve themselves. Ideally, you will use a colorful polychromatic platter for serving that perhaps you’ve brought back from Italy. If you make this antipasto a day ahead of time, make sure you hold the black pepper and anchovies until it is ready to be served.

Prep time: 1 hour

Cook time: 20 minutes

Total time: 1 hour, 20 minutes

Yield: 8 servings

Ingredients

4 red bell peppers

4 yellow bell peppers

4 green bell peppers

1 tablespoon dried oregano or 2 tablespoons fresh oregano

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

8 salted anchovy fillets, rinsed

Freshly ground black pepper to taste

Directions

1. Place the peppers on a wire rack over a burner on high heat and roast until their skins blister black on all sides, turning occasionally with tongs. Remove the peppers and place in a paper or heavy plastic bag to steam for 20 minutes, which will make them easier to peel. When cool enough to handle, rub off as much blackened peel as you can and remove the seeds by rubbing with a paper towel (to avoid washing away flavorful juices) or by rinsing under running water (to remove more easily).

2. Toss the peppers together and let drain for 1 hour in a strainer.

3. Toss the peppers again with the oregano and olive oil. Arrange on a platter so that the colors are nicely distributed and place the anchovy fillets on top and sprinkle with pepper. Keep covered and refrigerated, but serve at room temperature.

Roasted Red And Yellow Bell Peppers With Shaved Celery Heart

Roasted red and yellow bell peppers with shaved celery heart. Credit: Copyright 2015 Clifford A. Wright

Roasted red and yellow bell peppers with shaved celery heart. Credit: Copyright 2015 Clifford A. Wright

This is a nice antipasto for an early fall day when you have the grill going, as the best way to cook the peppers is on the grill, which gives them a nice smoky flavor. Alternatively, you can blister their skins as instructed in the recipes above.

Prep time: 5 minutes

Cook time: 20 minutes

Total time:  25 minutes

Yield: 4 servings

Ingredients

4 red bell peppers, roasted until the skin blisters black, skin discarded, seeded, cut into 1/4-inch thick slices

4 yellow bell peppers, roasted until the skin blisters black, skin discarded, seeded, cut into 1/4-inch thick slices

1 celery heart, very thinly sliced

3 scallions, white part only, thinly sliced

16 green olives

Extra virgin olive oil

Balsamic vinegar to taste (optional)

Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Directions

Arrange the bell peppers attractively on an oval platter. Spread the sliced celery heart and scallions in the center. Garnish with the olives and sprinkle with olive oil, balsamic vinegar, if using, and salt and pepper.

Roasted Red Bell Peppers With Mozzarella And Prosciutto

Roasted Red Bell Peppers With Mozzarella and Prosciutto. Credit: Copyright 2015 Clifford A. Wright

Roasted red bell peppers with mozzarella and prosciutto. Credit: Copyright 2015 Clifford A. Wright

This is a five-minute antipasto for a time you are too tired to cook or when you have unexpected guests. Excellent quality roasted red peppers sold in Italian groceries, supermarket salad bars and even in jars and cans make this dish an easy one. Of course, you can make them on the grill, too.

Prep time: 5 minutes

Cook time: 0 minutes

Total time: 5 minutes

Yield: 2 to 4 servings

Ingredients

1/2 pound fresh mozzarella cheese

1/4 pound prosciutto di Parma, thinly sliced

3 large red bell peppers, roasted until the skin blisters black, skin discarded, seeded, quartered

5 large fresh basil leaves, chopped

Extra virgin olive oil to taste

Freshly ground black pepper to taste

Directions

1. Slice the mozzarella into 3-by-1/2-inch rectangles. Place each piece of cheese on a slice of prosciutto and roll them up. Take a quarter of a roasted red pepper and stuff the wrapped cheese inside.

2. Arrange attractively on a platter and sprinkle the basil over all. Drizzle the olive oil over the cheese, add a sprinkling of pepper and serve.

Main photo: Red and green bell peppers for late-summer antipasti. Credit: Copyright 2013 Wynne Everett



Zester Daily contributor Clifford A. Wright won the James Beard/KitchenAid Cookbook of the Year Award and the James Beard Award for the Best Writing on Food in 2000 for "A Mediterranean Feast." His latest book is "One-Pot Wonders" (Wiley).

NO COMMENTS

POST A COMMENT