Showing posts with label Roasted red peppers. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Roasted red peppers. Show all posts

23 June 2014

Meatless Monday: Cucumber Salad with Roasted Red Pepper and Feta Cheese

Cucumber Salad with Roasted Red Pepper and Feta Cheese

I read "Gone with the Wind" when I was 11 years old, renaming my recently-cast-off Barbie doll Scarlett, and constructing elaborate dresses using embroidery hoops in the skirts. I read and reread the book all that year, and once forced myself into sleep by mentally naming all the characters, major and minor.

A bookish, somewhat solitary child, I memorized entire passages, and lived the book as much as a young girl can in the second half of the 20th century. I recall asking my father (who read everything) to name his favorite part of the book, and I recall his reply verbatim, "When they were grubbing for food at Tara - that was my favorite."

Ever my father's daughter, I have to admit: I love that part of the book, too. I love being forced to do a lot with a little. I am always up for a challenge.

These days I grub for food in my own larder, and I am rarely disappointed in the outcome of my food pairings.

14 April 2014

Sweet Italian Sausage with Peppers and Olives


Sweet Italian Sausage with Peppers and Olives

Can it be that eight years after starting this blog I've finally found its voice? It is something I have struggled with, especially the past two years, even though I blogged rather sporadically until recently.

18 February 2014

A Dozen Pantry Staples I Can't Do Without

It's been snowing for nearly seven hours as I write this, and some prognosticators say it's not going to stop for another 20 or so. Oh, goody.

Fortunately, I've baked beans in the slow cooker. When you keep navy beans and condiments on hand, it's an easy meal to make. All you need are beans, bacon, ketchup, mustard, onions, bacon, molasses and brown sugar - pantry staples for most of us.

There are a few other pantry items I am never without, in addition to flour, sugar and other baking-related supplies. Here's my list:

01 February 2009

Roasted Asparagus and Red Pepper Salad with Chevre and Bacon

"Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without" and "Shop locally - check your pantry" are two phrases I've been hearing a lot of lately.

Except for the doing without, I'm pretty good at being frugal. If someone would have told me even a few years ago that the penurious years of college and the early stages of my career would train me for the rest of my life, I might have been shocked. But I'm closer to retirement than college now, and I'm wondering just what the future holds. We're lucky for now. For now.

So I continue to save scraps of this and that for future soups and stews. My freezer is filled with odds and ends, that make for some pretty interesting and sometimes inspired meal pairings.

Sunday night, we had four red peppers and a bunch of asparagus in the crisper. We wanted a light meal. My husband was feeling flu-ish and I was sure I was next.

Roasted Asparagus and Red Pepper Salad with Chevre and Bacon
  • 3-4 red peppers, washed and trimmed into strips.
  • 10-15 asparagus spears, washed and trimmed
  • 1-2 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1-2 medium shallots, cut into thin slices
  • 2 tablespoons chevre
  • 1 tablespoon bacon bits

Pre heat oven to 425. Coat peppers and asparagus and roast them until they begin to turn brown along the edges. You may want to give the red peppers a 10-minute head start. While the vegetables are roasting, brown the shallots in olive oil in a small skillet until they turn transparent and golden. Once the vegetables are roasted, allow to cool for 3 minutes and layer them on a salad plate, sprinkling chevre and bacon bits. Season with fleur de sel and freshly ground pepper.

I added this dressing

This salad would be great with a sausage-based dish or with herbed chicken.

16 November 2008

Stuffed Cheese Sandwiches with Roasted Red Pepper

In her later years, Grandma Annie seldom traveled but when she did, it was often to come to the aid of her oldest daughter who underwent a series of surgeries at mid-life. During those extended trips, my mother (a younger daughter) would haul us across the river to Annie's house in Frenchtown to "check things." These trips usually took place after school and they always seemed to be on gray November days.

We'd enter the cold, empty house, the day's mail in our hands, and quickly turn up the furnace. While my mother checked every room in the deep, narrow house, we children would huddle in the living room waiting for the heat to kick in. The furnace provided a gentle, lulling sound, a sort of comforting white noise that still soothes me today. I would eagerly sift through Annie's mail for the latest women's magazine so I could read the fiction. Those were the days before stories about orgasm and geriatric sex replaced quality short stories or novellas.

While the house was empty without Annie, her spirit always seemed to remain there as it lingered for many years after her death. Late afternoon, that time of deepening darkness, was a cozy time at the old house with the incandescent lights providing a yellow glow.

When Annie was in residence, this was the time she retreated to the kitchen to make soup, salad and sandwiches for the evening meal. I did this yesterday, as night fell, preparing a quick meal of cheese sandwiches and cole slaw. As always, Annie was with me, whispering those memories in my ear. I wonder what she would think of my concoctions?

Stuffed Cheese Sandwiches with Roasted Red Pepper, Tomato and Basil

  • 8 slices of roasted red pepper
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4 thick slices of sourdough or Italian bread
  • 2 thicks slices of gouda or sharp cheddar cheese
  • 4-6 slices tomato
  • 4-8 basil leaves
  • butter


Coat the pepper slices with olive oil and roast in a 450-degree oven for 10-15 minutes. Set aside. Butter the bread lightly on all four sides, then layer with cheese, pepper, tomato and basil leaves. Melt butter in a skillet, and toast the sandwiches until both sides are golden brown.

Next time, I'll layer the sandwiches with sautéed onion slices for extra flavor.

I served this with cole slaw to which I added chopped cranberries and grated Granny Smith apple. I think an olive medley would have been a better choice.

12 April 2008

Roasted Red Pepper Salad with Almond-Stuffed Olives


When I looked outside Saturday morning and saw December instead of April, I was surprised but not disheartened. When it is cold and blustery outside, there are plenty of antidotes inside.

Start by lighting a scented candle. My favorites for days like this evoke the Mediterranean. In the dining room are eucalyptus and herbes de Provence, while the kitchen candle is apricot.

Next plan your menu for the day. Tomatoes and roasted peppers are what I prefer when the weather is gray. Perhaps some cheese. Voila! The basis for a roasted pepper salad.

1-12 cherry tomatoes, slightly roasted
3 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
2 red bell peppers,
2 garlic cloves
10-12 chunks of fresh mozzarella cheese
olives (mine were green and stuffed with almonds)
handful of fresh parsley, chopped
dash sel de fleur
dash pepper, freshly ground

Toss the the cherry tomatoes and toss them in one teaspoon olive oil. Roast at medium heat in a small oven until they are just soft; chill. Next, cut the red peppers into strips and chop the garlic. Toss peppers and garlic in a bowl and coat with the remainder of the olive oil. Roast at 425 for about 15-20 minutes until the peppers begin to turn black along the edges and the garlic turns brown. Place in a large bowl and set aside to chill.

Once roasted ingredients are chilled, toss with cheese and olives. Add parsley (and basil, if you have any fresh on hand; I did not). Cover and chill for two hours. Season after you taste test.

This is a sweet salad! I served it with London Broil that had been rubbed with herbes de Provence and garlic.

Just making it cheered me immensely. Preparing the countertop, chopping the garlic, and roasting the peppers gave me a purpose.

There is nothing quite like puttering about in the kitchen, is there?

17 January 2008

Red Pepper and Chickpea Dip


The No. 1 topic here in Northern Wisconsin these days is, of course, the Green Bay Packers-New York Giants game set for Sunday on the soon-to-be frozen tundra.

It’s been 11 years since Green Bay went to the Superbowl, and everyone is excited that this might be the year the Pack returns. I hope so, too. I loved that game in 1997 when a beaming Bret Favre made that long victory run. You gotta love the guy.

I normally don’t go in for much Packers hoopla. Or any football stuff. (But for several years, I worked with the organization – not for it, but with it – and I will say this: There are some mighty nice people in the team’s front office.)

But I am not and never will be someone who understands football, no matter how my husband or brothers or ex-boyfriends try to help me. The first time I saw a ref throw a yellow flag on the ground I thought he was just having a fit.

But I do enjoy the snack preparations. I mean, what is football without snacks?

Given my penchant for anything made with roasted red peppers and my 2008 quest to eat healthier, I will probably make this wonderful Roasted Red Pepper and Chick Pea Dip.You will notice it is really not much different from the other red-pepper dips I favor. It just seems healthier, thanks to the chick peas.

  • 1 8-ounce container low-fat cream cheese
  • 1 16-ounce can of chickpeas, drained
  • 1 12-ounce jar roasted red peppers, drained
  • 2 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 1/tablespoon aioli
  • 2 teaspoons minced onions
  • dash lemon juice
  • dash freshly ground pepper
  • dash fleur de sel

Set the cream cheese out so that it is at room temperature. While you are waiting, puree the chickpeas and the red peppers. Blend them into the cream cheese with a beater. Add mayonnaise, minced onions and aioli. (It’s a good idea to taste it now – you may want to add a dash of hot sauce or horseradish to sort of pump up the volume, so to speak.). Add lemon juice, salt and pepper, and allow the flavors to marry for several hours or overnight. Serve with vegetable chips or raw vegetables.

Bakeries and delis at local grocery stores will offer green-and-gold pasta, bread, cakes and special cuts of cheese and sausage for tailgaters at Lambeau Field and those of us who prefer to warm our frostbitten fingers around a big-screen TV.

Go Pack.

06 January 2008

Red Pepper and Shrimp Dip

I've just come from a reception for a new chef that featured some lovely finger foods, including red caviar and goat cheese on toast rounds and stuffed Brussels sprouts.

The finger foods that emerge from my own kitchen are always a bit more rustic, and I rarely plan for them. They happen organically and are made from whatever it is I have on hand at the time.

Recently, I scrambled together a dip that my palate was very enthusiastic about, especially the second day. I served it with toasted bagel chips (the photo above does not do it justice). It has enough of a kick so that it also pairs well with bland vegetables like celery and cauliflower.

Red Pepper Shrimp Dip
  • 8 ounces low fat cream cheese at room temperature
  • 3-4 roasted red peppers, from a jar
  • 1 small yellow onion
  • 1 can shrimp, drained
  • 1 teaspoon horseradish
  • 2 teaspoons aioli
  • 1 tablespoon low-fat mayonnaise
  • dash freshly-ground pepper
  • dash fleur de sel

Place the softened cream cheese in a mixing bowl. Use a blender or food processor to turn the red peppers into pulp. Add to the cream cheese and blend. Chop the onions, then the shrimp. Toss those into the dip and blend. To deepen and enhance the dip, add horseradish, aioli and mayonnaise. Add pepper and fleur de sel, using a hand blender to keep it smooth. Allow it to chill for an hour or two before serving.

You can certainly add more horseradish to punch up the flavor. I will next time. I often add a dash of lemon juice, but I am not sure I did this time.

09 September 2007

Sausage Stuffed Red Peppers

Brr. It is downright chilly here tonight. Out come the winter pajamas!

At any given time, you will likely find red peppers, sweet Italian sausage and a jar of sun-dried tomatoes in my larder. Onions, garlic and cheese are givens, as important as milk and coffee. So when I found inspiration in The Magazine of La Cucina Italiana, I did not have to venture out for provisions.

The magazine features yellow bell peppers stuffed with ground beef and cheese. I used red peppers, sausage and olives. The recipe below is an adaptation.

Sweet Italian Sausage-Stuffed Red Peppers

  • 1 large onion, peeled and chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 1/2 pounds sweet Italian sausage
  • 2 teaspoons herbes de Provence
  • 1/3 cup sun-dried tomatoes from a jar, chopped
  • 1/2 cup green and/or black olives, pitted and chopped
  • 1/2 cup spaghetti sauce
  • 4-6 red bell peppers
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, grated
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 teaspoon each rosemary and thyme, chopped

Sauté onion and garlic in olive oil; set aside. In same skillet, brown sausage, using a wooden spatula to cut into small pieces. Add herbs and, sun-dried tomatoes, olives and spaghetti sauce and allow to simmer about 20 minutes over low heat.

Using a sharp knife, carefully cut the tops and stem off the peppers. Set peppers on their sides and cut away roughly 1/4 of the pepper and remove seeds and membrane. Place peppers in a greased baking pan. Set aside.

Add cheese to sausage mixture. Add beaten egg to serve as a binder. Finally, add rosemary and thyme. Spoon sausage mixture into peppers and bake at in a preheated 350-degree oven for 20 minutes. Remove from oven and top with Parmesan or other cheese (I used a mild cheddar infused with basil and tomato).

Allow peppers to cool 5-10 minutes before serving. This mild herby and very sweet dish would be perfect paired with a rosé table wine, perhaps something from Provence.

25 February 2007

Spicy Chicken Breasts With Ratatouille Vegetables in a Roasted Red Pepper Sauce

Winter has finally come to my corner of the Upper Midwest. It hit around 3 a.m. on Sunday morning and has been going full force. Schools are closed, kids are inside and the only sound you hear is the cacophony of snowblowers and the occasional freight train trundling through town. Those of us who are lucky enough to be able to work from home are doing that.

After Blowing Us Out Round One on Sunday, my husband made chili. Hot stuff. I made something similarly spicy cobbled together from what was on hand and in the larder: Chicken Breasts with Ratatouille Vegetables in a Roasted Red Pepper Sauce.

It's a fricassee kind of dish, served with strips of eggplant, peppers and zucchini. Since I'm off carbs for two weeks, I had to make up for that sacrifice with protein and heat.

For the Chicken

  • 3 boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground red pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • dash sel de fleur
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 small yellow onion
  • 1 large clove garlic
  • 1 14.5-ounce can diced tomatoes with roasted red pepper
  • 1/2 cup roasted red peppers from a jar
  • 1/2 cup salt-free chicken broth
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme


Toss seasonings and chicken in a plastic bag to coat. Then, use a heavy skillet to lightly brown chicken in olive oil. When chicken is barely golden brown, remove it from pan; set aside. Add onion and garlic and brown lightly, adding a little more olive oil, if necessary. Cook for about three minutes. Pour in tomatoes and water. Add red pepper. You may chop this into small pieces, or even mince it. Return the chicken to the skillet and cook for about 30-45 minutes under low heat. Since I was using dried thyme, I added it midway through the cooking process.

I always use a meat thermometer to check chicken prepared this way, or any way, for that matter.

I kept checking the sauce and adding more spices. There is no prescribed amount, really; it's whatever you can tolerate.

For the Vegetables

  • 1 medium eggplant
  • 2 peppers, green and red
  • 1 medium zucchini
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • fleur de sel

While the chicken was cooking, the vegetables were roasting in a 450-degree oven. These I prepared earlier in the day, working with the eggplant first, cutting it into strips, but not peeling it. I sprinkled it with sel de fleur and let it sit for about an hour to remove water. I almost always use a mix of salt and herbes de Provence (above). The peppers and the zucchini were also cut in strips. I drizzled the vegetables with olive oil before putting them in the oven.

I timed it so the vegetables and chicken were done at the same time. Usually, I get the timing all messed up, and one thing ends up being cold or overcooked.

Having nothing else to do (well, nothing else I had to do), enabled me to get it just right.

Let's hear it for snow days.