I love the smoky sweetness inherent in a roasted red pepper. My favorite way to enjoy roasted red peppers is in a simple antipasto with olive oil packed tuna, lemon juice, extra virgin olive oil, some fresh Italian parsley and a little sea salt. I wanted to see if I could punch up the smoky sweetness factors and this is what I came up with.
Ever since making homebytherange’s garlic basil infused olive oil, I have been experimenting, and I really like what a fresh sprig of rosemary and some garlic does to the flavor of the oil – all the sweet woodsy notes of the rosemary and slow cooked garlic. These flavors complement the natural sweetness of the pepper, while the smoked paprika kicks the roasted smokiness up a notch.
My husband and I enjoyed this simply on some local organic lettuce from our CSA box. I also had a few pieces of olive oil toasted baguette (halfway through my meal I was enjoying lettuce and the pepper-tuna antipasto on my bread – why am I only figuring this out now?) It was the perfect light meal – smoky, sweet, satisfying and delicious with a glass of Pinot. —gingerroot
red bell peppers
small (2.8 oz) can of olive oil packed light tuna (I use and recommend Flott brand)
finely chopped Italian parsley
Smoky and Sweet dressing (recipe below)
Favorite local lettuce
French baguette or Italian bread slices, brushed on one side with olive oil and toasted in a 400 degree oven, oiled sides down, for five minutes
Rosemary-Garlic infused olive oil (see recipe below)
Roast bell peppers under a broiler or over the burner of a gas stove. I do not have gas so I broil, placing a piece of tin foil under peppers to catch any juices as they split and blister. Roast until charred and blackened on all sides – my nose usually tells me when it is time to turn them. Once roasted, carefully remove peppers from oven and place in a large shallow bowl. Lately I’ve been using the foil the peppers were roasted on to cover the bowl and allow pepper to steam for a few minutes. Remove foil, allow peppers to cool, and remove stem, skin and seeds. Transfer to a cutting board. With a sharp knife, slice peppers into thin strips lengthwise and then crosswise to end up with 1 inch long pieces. Note: I like using a bowl instead of a paper bag to steam peppers to catch all the smoky sweet juices that are released. If I am careful enough, I can keep the juices relatively seed free and then add it to the peppers before mixing with the tuna.
Place roasted pepper pieces into a medium sized bowl. Add any juices from original bowl that you used to steam peppers in. Drain most of oil from tuna and add tuna to peppers. Top with finely chopped parsley and 3 T of Smoky and Sweet dressing. Using a fork to break up tuna, toss to combine well. Serve over lettuce and/or with olive oil toasted baguette.
SMOKY AND SWEET DRESSING: In a small jar with a lid, combine 3T Rosemary-Garlic infused olive oil, sherry vinegar, almond butter and smoked paprika. Close jar and shake vigorously to emulsify. Add sea salt to taste.
ROSEMARY-GARLIC INFUSED OLIVE OIL: Combine 8 garlic cloves, smashed flat with the side of a large knife, 1 6-8" sprig fresh rosemary and 1 cup extra virgin olive oil in a small saucepan, making sure that garlic is submerged (even if only barely – you can further flatten any pieces that are not submerged). Cook over extremely low heat for 45 minutes. Oil will begin to separate if it boils. Transfer to a clean glass jar with lid and allow oil to cool, then refrigerate. Infused oil is extremely perishable so use within a week. Rosemary infused oil also makes a delicious simple vinaigrette – combine ½ cup rosemary infused oil, ¼ cup balsamic vinegar, 2 t Dijon mustard, salt and pepper to taste.
My most vivid childhood memories have to do with family and food. As a kid, I had the good fortune of having a mom who always encouraged trying new things, and two grandmothers who invited me into their kitchens at a young age. I enjoy cooking for the joy it brings me - sharing food with loved ones - and as a stress release. I turn to it equally during good times and bad. Now that I have two young children, I try to be conscientious about what we cook and eat. Right about the time I joined food52, I planted my first raised bed garden and joined a CSA; between the two I try to cook as sustainably and organically as I can. Although I'm usually cooking alone, my children are my favorite kitchen companions and I love cooking with them. I hope when they are grown they will look back fondly at our time spent in the kitchen, as they teach their loved ones about food-love.
Best of all, after years on the mainland for college and graduate school, I get to eat and cook and raise my children in my hometown of Honolulu, HI. When I'm not cooking, I am helping others grow their own organic food or teaching schoolchildren about art.