Roasted Pepper and Tomato Salad
Roasted peppers are reason alone for why I will never be a convert to the raw food movement. If the meltingly tender, sweet roast pepper is not an argument for cooking food, I don’t know what is. Yes, I am in love with roasted veg of almost any variety and peppers are my favourite. Usually I just bung them in a hot oven until the skins are charred, but this time I really pushed the boat out and cut them into chunks first! You can use almost any sort of tomato for this dish but I would recommend you try a plum cherry tom as it looks so cute and is intensely sweet when roasted.
This combination makes a lovely salad with some basil leaves and a spoon of very good quality olive oil, a slick of equally good balsamic vinegar and a grinding of black pepper. You could also serve it on some freshly cooked pasta for a fresh tasting and utterly delicious sauce.
For four people:
4 – 6 peppers, a mixture of red and orange looks really colourful
2 punnets of plum cherry tomatoes, halved
Good quality extra virgin olive oil
Good quality balsamic vinegar (optional)
Heat your oven to 180 C/350 F.
The easiest way to remove the seeds from a pepper is to slice off the top (where the stalk is), reach in gently and pull out the whole seed pod. Then turn the open side of the pepper into the palm of your hand and tap the back of the pepper firmly. This will loosen and remove any remnant seeds.
Cut the peppers in quarters and lay out, skin side up, on an oven tray that has been lined with baking paper.
On a separate tray, also lined with baking paper, lay out the halved tomatoes, cut side up.
Put the trays in the hot oven and cook for about half an hour. That should be enough time for the pepper skins to be wrinkled and blackened in parts. Take the peppers out and lay a clean tea towel over the tray. You can turn the heat down and leave the tomatoes in for another half hour. You want them to dry out a bit.
Once the peppers are cool enough to handle, gently peel away the skins. The skin will come off easily if left to steam under the tea towel for a few minutes. If you leave them to go completely cold, however, the skins seem to cling to the flesh.
When all is done, lay out the peppers and tomatoes on a platter, scatter over some torn basil leaves, the olive oil and balsamic (if using) and finish off with a grinding of black pepper.
Close your eyes and you will find yourself in the Mediterranean!