Thursday, 11 January 2007

Piedmontese Peppers

I nearly had an accident when Jean was describing this one to me. I think Delia did it originally but it may have been altered since then as I received it in a frantic email. You can't really believe the amount of juice that will come out of these puppies. You end up with half a delicately balanced pepper almost full with sweet, sugary juice. I served it as a starter, thinking we'd have half each, but we couldn't stop there and had 2 halves each.

4 large red peppers (green are not suitable) - 1 per person
4 plum tomatoes
8 tinned anchovy fillets, drained
2 cloves garlic
8 dessertspoons Italian extra virgin olive oil
freshly milled black pepper

To serve:
small bunch fresh basil leaves

Pre-heat the oven to gas mark 4, 350?F (180?C).

For this it is essential to use a good, solid, shallow roasting tray, 16 x 12 inches (40 x 30 cm). If the sides are too deep, the roasted vegetables won't get those lovely, nutty, toasted edges.

Begin by cutting the peppers in half and removing the seeds but leaving the stalks intact (they're not edible but they do look attractive and they help the pepper halves to keep their shape). Lay the pepper halves in the lightly oiled roasting tray. Now put the tomatoes in a bowl and pour boiling water over them. Leave them for 1 minute, then drain them and slip the skins off, using a cloth to protect your hands. Then cut the tomatoes into quarters and place two quarters in each pepper half.

After that, snip one anchovy fillet per pepper half into rough pieces and add to the tomatoes. Peel the garlic cloves, slice them thinly and divide the slices equally among the tomatoes and anchovies. Now spoon 1 dessertspoon of olive oil into each pepper, season with freshly milled pepper (but no salt because of the anchovies) and place the tray on a high shelf in the oven for the peppers to roast for 50 minutes to 1 hour.

Then transfer the cooked peppers to a serving dish, with all the precious juices poured over, and garnish with a few scattered basil leaves. These do need good bread to go with them as the juices are sublime - focaccia would be perfect.

Taken from Delia Smith's Summer Collection

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