Friday, September 27, 2013

Oily Smokey Roasted Peppers

Ben took this whole jar to school in his lunch box! With some kvass and a beautiful slice of liver-and-kidney pie.
One great thing about keeping a jar of roasted peppers in the fridge is that the kids just love them so much! Whether it’s the bitterness or the sliminess or the weird way they get stringy and slippery, with horrible little white seeds clinging to them like alien larvae, who can say. They just know they love them.

My friend Nicole brought me these beautiful paprika peppers from her garden. They are sweet and spicy and perfect for this, but regular bell peppers are grand too, I promise.
Okay, they don’t love them. Or like them. But unlike various of their historic dislikes (potatoes, say, or water, both of which one or another of my children has been disgusted by at some point), I kind of get it.

Maybe good children like roasted peppers.
In fact, I am still someone who might see a cooked square of green pepper in my bowl of minestrone and sigh.

Life is easy under the broiler.
Why roasted feels different to me from cooked, then, is somewhat mysterious. But these roasted peppers are sweet and meltingly tender, smoky and oily and tangy and hauntingly delicious. I love them. 

Do only people from immigrant families eat sardines? I wonder sometimes, because I feel alone in my love for them.
Plus, if you have a jar of roasted peppers in your fridge, then lunch is never far off: roasted peppers on toast with sardines; roasted peppers stirred into a can of oil-packed tuna with a handful of parsley; roasted peppers and a few slices of fresh mozzarella with a pile of Finn Crisps. If it weren’t for the kids, I’d say that you could toss some into pasta with a blob of ricotta and a few capers and call that dinner. But alas.

I asked Michael to do this so that I could "get a shot of it" and then I left the kitchen for the evening. Bait and switch alert! Although, skinning roast peppers is a job I find strangely satisfying. Like peeling strips of blistered sunburn off of your brother's back, say.
Oily Smokey Roasted Peppers
This is not an exact recipe. The idea here is to preserve the peppers (which are in season now, and abundant) using a three-pronged approach—salt, vinegar, and oil—that a) makes them taste great and b) allows them to keep for a long time. The seasonings are optional, of course, and/or could be varied, but the smoked paprika just ratchets up the smokiness in the perfect way, I find, so the peppers taste like you blackened them over a blazing hardwood fire instead of under the boring old broiler.

Any number of bell peppers or other peppers (I’ve been using paprika peppers.)
½ inch of white vinegar in a medium-sized bowl
½ cup olive oil
2 cloves garlic, smashed and peeled
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
Kosher salt (around 1 teaspoon per panful of peppers)

Cut the peppers in half lengthwise, slice out the stems, and pull out the seeds and veins. Arrange them on a foil-covered baking sheet, and pop them under the broiler until they are fully charred and wilting, 15 minutes or so.

Meanwhile, heat the oil for about 1 minute (via small stovetop pot or microwave) with the garlic and smoked paprika, and leave it to steep.

Dump the blackened peppers into a heatproof bowl, and cover them with the foil. Leave them to steam and cool for around 10 minutes.

Peel and rub off as much of the blackened skins as is easy. One at a time, dunk each peeled pepper half fully into the vinegar, then put each one in a bowl. When they’re all peeled and vinegared, toss the peppers with the salt, and pack them into a perfectly clean jar or glass container. Pour the remaining vinegar over them, then strain the oil over them, and refrigerate up to a month or two or three.


  1. Allyson4:21 PM

    Yum! We've been getting lots of Carmen peppers (long, red, "frying peppers") from our CSA, and this looks like a great way to use them. And you are not alone in your sardine love, Catherine, although I am very, very picky about how I'll eat mine: on rye bread, with a little mayo, and sliced, ripe, in-season tomatoes. Thus, I only have a short-ish season each year when I can eat them. But I do love them! Maybe I'll try them with peppers?

  2. Anonymous5:48 PM

    You have a typo: The seasonings are optional, of course, and/or could be varies - you mean "varied", right?
    Also a weirdly (for you) ambiguous sentence: One at a time, dunk each peeled pepper half in the vinegar, then put each one in a bowl. Do you mean each half of a pepper or dip each one halfway into the vinegar.
    You are otherwise perfect, I love all of your writing and if I lived closer I would constantly be on the lookout hoping to bump into you and get your autograph.

  3. Anonymous5:43 PM

    Honestly, Catherine - your caption on the first photo first made me wince in astonished envy - Her children are not to be believed! - and then burst out laughing, when I realized you were being funny. It's truly a testament both to how amazing we think (and know) your kids to be, and to your wicked sense of humor, that either reading feels like it could be accurate. Off to go make your plum cake now - with aged, wrinkled, unhappy plums. But it'll still be good, right?!?

  4. You are not alone in your love for sardines. I love them, and was surprised when I moved to this small mountain town that it is considered that several cans of sardines make a nice gift or stocking stuffer. It turns out that hunters and anglers love them, too. Who knew?

  5. Tina G10:16 PM

    My husbands grandparents came from Russia and yes- he does like sardines- so I'll add that to your theory.

  6. Anonymous9:30 AM

    Sardines!!!!! ....... from the tin, with a fork :)

    But I am probably alone in my pregnancy craving, long ago: sardines and Nutella. On white bread.

    1. Anonymous7:31 PM

      OMG. Separately, each is delish. But combined!?!

    2. Anonymous2:49 AM

      It tasted good at the time ;) But it doesn't appeal now!!!!

  7. Dang! I wish I'd seen this last week. I had a glut of green peppers (gifted from a friend), and I roasted them and stuck them in the freezer. This is so much more in I might actually use them rather than throw them away in three years, after they've turned everything else in the freezer green-pepper flavored. Also, my dad immigrated from Austria and is the only person I know who eats sardines, so maybe you're right.

  8. Live on! Sardines and roasted peppers... forever and be well stocked in my refrig...

  9. Anonymous5:42 PM

    Yum! Love this idea and it looks so pretty! Love your posts. Between the games, canning vegetables, fruit&vegetable trays, and lots of other stuff you've posted, your blog is somehow reminicent of my happy childhood in the 70's.

  10. Anonymous7:33 PM

    Love sardines. Always have. They were my childhood Sunday-after-church-before-late-lunch snack.

  11. mmm. i love peppers - roasted and not.

    my grandfather loved sardines, and family lore has it that he once ate a peanut butter & sardine sandwich. on rye. he said the peanut butter helped hold the sardines on the bread...

    nutella and sardines, though? i think he might have objected.