Roasted Peppers: Mediterranean Side Dish from your Garden for Outdoor Dinners

By Patti Bess, author of Vegetarian Barbecue

Roasted peppers to wake up your senses.

Peppers from your garden

Balmy September days finish the ripening and sweetening of peppers.

H. Potter’s copper urn is the perfect place to grow a variety of peppers on the deck or amidst the flower beds.

How to roast peppers

Roasted peppers are great flavor enhancers for just about, well, so many things.

Many cookbooks recommend cutting them in half to roast, but grilling them whole makes peeling so much easier. Set aside in a bowl, covered, until cooled, and they will continue cooking. That way their delicious juices can be saved. Once cooled, their skins slip off like a Hollywood starlet dropping her negligee in a love scene. Remove the seeds, slice, and use or freeze in containers for next winter.

Roasting them in the oven at 400 degrees works well too and gives a more even heat without blackening the skins.

Peppers from the market later in the winter are not only exorbitantly priced, but they have a kind of petroleum-like taste. Not sure what that is, but it definitely motivates me to preserve the abundance of summer’s harvest.

Fresh peppers freeze easily

They don’t need to be blanched, just cut them into slices. I use a variety of colors to freeze in plastic bags to add later to frittatas, fajitas, stir fries and soups.

This side dish is the perfect accompaniment to just about any September dinner on the deck.

Roasted Peppers and Tomatoes with Herbs and Capers

  • Four big bell peppers — red, orange, chocolate or green
  • One large beefsteak-type tomato, or one-and-a-quarter pounds ripe garden tomatoes
  • Two smaller yellow tomatoes (or whatever is available)
  • Ten flat-leaf parsley sprigs
  • Two tablespoons chopped fresh marjoram, or twelve to fifteen large basil leaves
  • Two cloves garlic
  • Two tablespoons capers, rinsed
  • Twelve Nicoise olives, pitted
  • Three tablespoons best-quality olive oil
  • Salt and fresh ground pepper

Roast the peppers until evenly charred. Place them in a large bowl, cover, and set aside to cool while preparing everything else. Then remove blackened skin, pull out seeds and cut into wide strips.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Score the ends of the tomatoes, and drop them into boiling water for 10 seconds. Plunge into cold water for 10 seconds; then remove the skins, halve them crosswise, and gently squeeze out the seeds. Cut into wide pieces.

Pluck the leaves from the parsley stems. You should have about a half cup. Chop finely along with the marjoram and garlic, then put in a bowl with the capers, olives, and olive oil. Season with ¾ teaspoon salt and pepper to taste.

Lightly oil a small gratin dish. Add the tomatoes, peppers, and sauce; toss together. Cover and bake for 20 minutes. Let cool before serving.

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