A classic addition to Italian antipasti platters, roasted red peppers are sweet, simple to make, last for days, and can be used in a wide variety of ways. We roast them on a gas burner (you can also use a broiler or a grill) and present them with pureed basil and olive oils, salty capers, and balsamic vinegar. All of the elements of this dish can be made ahead of time and put together just before serving.
Yield: Serves 6
3 large sweet red bell peppers
About 1/3 cup Basil Oil (recipe follows) or good olive oil
1½ to 3 tablespoons Balsamic Vinegar
1 cup caperberries, or ½ cup capers
1 tablespoon shredded fresh basil leaves
1. If you have a gas stove-top, heat 3 burners to high. Place the bell peppers directly on the flames and cook, turning the peppers from side to side and top to bottom, for 5 to 6 minutes, or until they are blackened and charred on all sides. You want to char the pepper skins but not cook or dry out the peppers. Alternatively, place the bell peppers on a baking sheet under the broiler for 5 to 6 minutes, following the directions above. Or place on a hot outdoor gas or charcoal grill, following the directions above.
2. Remove the peppers from the heat and put them in a brown paper bag; seal and let them steam in the bag for 5 minutes. Remove from the bag and peel, core, deseed, and cut off the inner ribs. Cut the peppers into ½-inch strips. The peppers can be made a day ahead of time; place in a tightly sealed bag and refrigerate.
3. Arrange the peppers on a serving plate and drizzle the basil oil and vinegar on top. Sprinkle the caperberries around the plate and top with the shredded fresh basil.
Use reduced balsamic glaze instead of regular balsamic. Simmer 2 cups balsamic vinegar in a medium saucepan over low heat for 40 minutes to 1 hour. You’ll know it’s done when it coats the back of a spoon and is thick and syrupy. Remove from the heat and let cool. Place in a tightly sealed jar and refrigerate. The glaze will last for several weeks. Bring to room temperature before using.
Add anchovies crisscrossed into an “X” on top of every other pepper.