Roasted red peppers have been in my radar for decades, even before I was a grown up. When I was a child, my parents would roast peppers by the bushel-full on the grill each summer and fall, before preserving them in jars for the colder months ahead. As an adult, I knew all about these delectable cured vegetables long before they became ubiquitous beyond Italian family tables. So I glossed over Domenica Marchetti’s recipe for sweet and sour roasted peppers in her cookbook, “Preserving Italy,” wrongly thinking you couldn’t improve on the basic roasted pepper. Boy was I wrong, as I found out a few weeks ago, while having dinner at the home of our mutual friends, Helen and Doug. Helen prepared Domenica’s recipe and served these treats over some luscious burrata cheese. One bite and I was hooked.
I couldn’t wait to get home and make these myself. You start out by either roasting the peppers indoors at the broil setting in your oven, or roasting them on an outdoor grill, until they blacken nearly all over. Let them sit covered in a bowl for a little while, until they’re cool enough to handle. Then peel off the blackened skins, and scrape the insides, removing the seeds. Slice them and place in a clean bowl with the garlic, capers and parsley.
Follow the recipe for the brine and pour over the top. Let the peppers steep for about an hour, then drain most of the liquid, and pack into jars, topping with olive oil.
Let the flavors meld together for a couple of days (if you can wait that long) then serve any way you like. They are especially delicious and offer a perfect contrast in flavors and texture over creamy burrata cheese.
But try them simply as a topping for bruschetta; in sandwiches or however you like. I know I am utterly addicted to these sweet and sour peppers and they’re going to become a staple in my kitchen. Pack them in pretty jars to give as gifts but make sure to keep some for yourself. You won’t be able to resist.
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- 3 pounds ripe bell peppers
- 2 tablespoons tiny capers
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
- 1 cup white wine vinegar
- 1 cup water
- ¼ cup sugar
- 1½ teaspoons fine sea salt
- 2 cloves garlic, sliced paper-thin
- extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 sterlized 1-pint jars and their lids
- Grill the peppers until the outside skin is blistered and somewhat blacked all around.
- If not grilling, you can roast the ppers in the oven.
- Arrange an oven rack 4 inches below the broiler and preheat the broiler.
- Place the peppers on a baking sheet and broil, turning every couple of minutes with tongs, until they are blistered on all sides.
- Transfer to a bowl and cover, with a plate or with plastic wrap.
- Let the peppers steam for about 10 minutes
- Lay a pepper on a cutting board near the sink and slice or gently pull off the stem.
- Let any juice from the pepper drain into the sink.
- Cut the pepper in half and scrape off the charred skins, seeds and innards.
- Cut the halves lengthwise into thin strips, about ¼ inch thick.
- Clean and slice the remaining peppers and transfer them to a heatproof bowl.
- Stir in the capers and parsley.
- Bring the vinegar, water, sugar, salt and garlic to a boil in a saucepan set over medium high heat.
- Boil the brine for two minutes to dissolve the sugar and salt, and then pour it over the peppers.
- Let steep for one hour.
- Drain the peppers, reserving a little of the brine.
- Pack the peppers tightly into the sterlized jars.
- Spoon one tablespoon brine over the peppers.
- Then fill each jar with enough oil to cover the peppers completely.
- Cover tightly and let sit at cool room temperature for 24 hours.
- Check to make sure the peppers are still submerged.
- If not, add more oil.
- Let the peppers cure for at least two days before using, then store in the refrigerator for up to three months.
- To serve, remove from the jar only as much as you plan to use and let it come to room temperature.
- Top off the jar with more oil as necessary to keep the remaining peppers submerged.