Bell of the Barbecue

Roasted red bell peppers marinated in spicy vinaigrette are a sweet accompaniment to breakfast, lunch or dinner, and now is the best time to take advantage of the local crop.



I look forward to wandering from stall to stall at farmers' markets, gathering colorful vegetables to incorporate into recipes and put on my table.

Fresh corn and locally grown tomatoes are the joys of July and August. But the real bounty comes in September, when there are great buys on bushels of veggies to be had for a song.

One of my favorites has always been red bell peppers. They seem to have a milder yet deeper flavor than their green siblings. Not only are red peppers delicious, they are also rich in antioxidant vitamins A and C as well as in folic acid. And to top it all off, they are one of the few vegetables to contain lycopene, a powerhouse anti-cancer agent.

Red peppers are delicious just the way they are, chopped up and added to salads, sautéd with onions and zucchini, or puréed into a dip with chickpeas.

But my favorite preparation involves roasting the peppers on the outdoor grill and then marinating them in spicy vinaigrette. Prepared this way, the vegetables keep for a week or more in the refrigerator, but trust me, they won't last that long. Serve them in the morning with scrambled eggs, for lunch as a complement to a sandwich or at dinner as a tasty side.
Red peppers may be available year-round thanks to global sourcing, but now is the time to take advantage of the local crop and earn your stripes as a frugal gourmet.

Roasted Red Bell Peppers
Serves 8-12
 

Ingredients:

1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup white or red-wine vinegar
1 clove of garlic, crushed
1 teaspoon dried oregano
Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions:
Mix the vinaigrette ingredients in a large bowl. Set the grill on high and place the whole peppers directly over the burners.

Keep turning the peppers until they are charred on all sides. Cut a slit into the side of each pepper, place them into a paper bag and seal the bag so that the peppers steam for 10 minutes, at which point they should be cool enough to handle. Rub off the outer skin and remove the stem and seeds.

Place the pepper pieces into the bowl with the dressing to marinate. Cover and refrigerate for at least an hour or overnight. They just keep on getting better.

Note: If you end up with a bushel of peppers, it's easy to multiply this recipe. The dressing is made with equal parts oil and vinegar, and the garlic and spices are really just to taste.

Sourdough French Bread  

Ingredients:

2 1/2 cups flour
1 cup plus 1 tablespoon warm water
1/4 teaspoon yeast
1 teaspoon salt
corn meal
1 egg white

Instructions:
Mix 1 cup flour with 1 cup warm water and the yeast. Let stand for 10 minutes until bubbly then stir again, cover and refrigerate overnight. Remove from the refrigerator and let the mixture sit out for an hour or so to come to room temperature. Stir in the salt and one cup of flour. Then stir or mix in the remaining 1/2 cup of flour, 1 tablespoon at a time, until the dough forms into a ball and cleans the side of the bowl. If using a mixer, let the dough knead for 3 minutes. If working by hand, knead on a lightly floured surface for 3-5 minutes. Put in a greased bowl and cover. Let rise for an hour until doubled in bulk. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and cut in two. Shape each piece into a baguette by folding the dough into itself as you roll it up and then rolling back and forth until it is approximately 12 to 14 inches long. Sprinkle some corn meal on the bottom of a greased pan and lay out the baguettes, seam side down. Let rise for another hour. Heat the oven to 400 degrees. Just before you put the loaves in the oven, brush them with an egg white and water wash and then make three slashes on each loaf with a sharp knife. Bake for 20 minutes or until golden brown.

 

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