Monday, August 19, 2013

Baked Peppers with Tomatoes

Baked peppers
When I left my last job, at a very cool urban farm in Philadelphia, a coworker gave me a beautiful cookbook called Tender, by English cook and author Nigel Slater.  The book focuses on Slater's relationship with his vegetable garden and home kitchen. It's beautifully photographed, and Slater's writing style is humorous, accessible, elegant, and delightful.  On a really basic level, this guy loves vegetables.  I pored over the recipes during the winter, waiting for the growing season to get going again so I'd have some fresh vegetables to work with.  It's the perfect cookbook for a farmer who really just got into all this because she loves to cook!

With one thing and another, I kind of forgot about Mr Slater for awhile after that.  Then, a couple of days ago I got the book out again, searching for inspiration, and almost at once I came upon this recipe, which is his take on classic Italian baked peppers.  I looked at the gorgeous photograph, read through the ingredients list and thought "Hey, we have all that stuff!", and made it for dinner.  I hope you all will do the same -- it is a treat, and another great use for those awkwardly-sized Juliet tomatoes!

Tender by Nigel Slater, who I think we'll be seeing a lot more of in these pages, by the way

enough for 4

4 good-sized bell peppers
12-16 small and/or cherry tomatoes
salt and black pepper
olive oil
a couple of handfuls of basil leaves

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Cut peppers in half lengthwise and discard the seeds and white core.  Put the halved peppers, cut side up, in a roasting pan or baking dish.  

Cut the tomatoes into halves or quarters, depending on their size, and season with salt and black pepper.  Divide evenly among the pepper-halves.  

Pour a little olive oil into each pepper and bake until the tomatoes and peppers are lusciously soft, about 45 minutes to an hour.

Blitz the basil leaves and about 1/3 cup olive oil in a blender, or mortar and pestle, then pour into the peppers.  The basil dressing will mingle with the warm tomato juices.  Serve as is, or with a hunk of good bread to soak up some of that lovely basil oil.

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