This recipe comes from Yotam Ottolenghi's Plenty and, true to Ottolenghi fashion, combines tons of fresh herbs and a variety of textures and flavors, all of which create a colorful and delectable salad. A few thoughts: After making this several times now, I've made a few ingredients optional because I find that there is still so much flavor when fewer herbs are present. So, feel free to keep it simple: Basil alone is delicious. Also, while I love Pecorino, which is the cheese Ottolenghi suggests using, sometimes I find it overpowering and a touch too salty (and I love salt). If you are sensitive to salt, something like Parmigiano Reggiano or Manchego or Drunken Goat (which I had on hand and worked great) are fine substitutions. Finally, if you have a preferred method for roasting peppers, go for it. I typically roast at higher temperatures than what is suggested here, and I prefer to cut the peppers in half rather than quarters, but I was surprised to have little difficulty peeling these peppers when they were not as charred as usual, and the peppers stayed meaty, while still being tender and juicy. The best peppers to roast are the ones that feel heavy in the hand — the thin-walled peppers are very difficult to peel and are best reserved for a different preparation.
Note: This recipe can very easily be scaled up. As the pictures show, I roasted a whole sheet pan of peppers and doubled the marinade for this quantity. These marinated peppers are a treat to have on hand — with a loaf of bread and a few shavings of cheese, you've got an impromptu party appetizer or a simple summer lunch. —Alexandra Stafford
2 as a starter
red bell pepper, quartered
yellow bell pepper, quartered
muscovado sugar (regular is just fine)
Preheat the oven to 375º F. Toss the peppers with 1 tablespoon of the oil and a little salt. Scatter them in a roasting pan and roast for 35 to 40 minutes or until they soften and take on some color. Remove to a bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Once cooled to room temperature, peel the peppers and cut into thin strips. Layer in a storage vessel, adding a light sprinkling of salt to each layer.
Whisk together 2 tablespoons of the oil, the balsamic vinegar, water, sugar, thyme (if using), garlic (if using) and some salt and pepper. Pour this over the peppers and leave aside for at least an hour or overnight in the fridge.
To assemble the salad, toss together the herbs, greens, drained pepper strips, cheese and capers. Add more of the marinade as needed so that the greens are lightly coated. Toss, taste, adjust with more salt, pepper or marinade as needed.