aka: Can I burn bell pepper’s skin using electric plates?
I went back to Italy for a weekend. I brought home a kilo of local grower’s bell peppers, still in season (it is still summery warm, there).
My favourite way to prepare peppers is to burn their skin and peel them. It is time consuming but they are unrivalled that way. I must warn you that it is worth bothering only if they are fleshy enough, otherwise they just turn to nothing. Now apparently you can burn peppers by putting them in the oven, or over a direct flame; I have always used the second method, and I always make extra peppers when I have a barbecue, saving them for a rainy day. Then when all the skin is charred, you put the hot peppers either in a paper bag and then in a plastic one (mummy’s way) or in a container with a very tight fitting lid (my way, since I live in places where they don’t sell bread in paper bags, unfortunately). When they are nearly cold, or cold, you take off the skin, possibly with the help of some kitchen paper, or if the peppers are very strong, also under running water (quicker, but they do lose some flavour). You then cut them and remove seeds, and here they are. Great for freezing too.
I had none of the above here (yes, I am talking about flames and oven, incredible as it sound), but I decided not to lose my spirit, and to try and char my peppers over the electric plates. It kind of worked, even if the result is not perfect. They only burn where they are in contact with the plate, so very regular shaped peppers work, while irregular ones are a real pain.
I made with them a salad with a very nice goat cheese I brought home from Italy. It is a very dry, low fat cheese, with a delicate flavour and a crumbly texture. I think any delicate goat’s cheese will do. I think the salad is originally from Morocco, and I found it in one of Claudia Rodin’s books, but of course I don’t have them with me here, so this is my memory’s version. I remember the original involved one of the few cheeses in Moroccan traditional production, at it should be quite a fresh cheese, but I had none, and the result was delicious with my aged dry goat cheese. I also substituted lemon juice , which I think was one of the main ingredients, and which I did not have, with sumac: so if you don’t have summac, use the juice of half a lemon, or even if you have it; the sumac is a little less sharp and non acidic, which I think works better with a strong cheese. The leftovers were even better, the day after.
Bell peppers, Chickpeas and Goat’s Cheese salad
Ingredients (serves 3-4)
150 gr dried chickpeas, soaked overnight and cooked until tender
4 bell peppers, fleshy ones
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon dried sumac
1 tablespoon olive oil
100 gr goats’ cheese, broken into little pieces
Once the chickpeas are cooked, and the bell peppers peeled and cut into strips, just mix all the ingredients but the cheese, and garnish with the chesse on top, or in the middle if you want to save the bother of cutting it.
p.s.: I went to buy some bread today, and not only the bread was gorgeous, it was in a paper bag!!