It’s time to distance myself from overly rich and calorific ‘holiday’ recipes after stuffing my face with abandon during the past week, so here’s a light and delicious start to the New Year.
I’ve converted anchovy haters to anchovy lovers with this incredibly easy and impressive appetizer. I didn’t tell them there were anchovies in the dish until after they’d finished licking their plates.
I believe that anchovy haters (like brussels sprouts haters) may have had a traumatic experience by inadvertently biting into a whole one that was lurking under some cheese on a pizza. That’s enough to turn anyone off, even though I and a few odd people I know love them that way.
But when used judiciously they dissolve and add an indefinable richness to many dishes, such as braised lamb shank.
I’m referring to the salty, oily little fillets that you find in jars or flat cans – pure anchovy paste also does the trick in a pinch. The fresh white anchovy fillets you find in upscale food stores are a good deal different – they’re meant to be eaten whole and haven’t been preserved in salt. They aren’t suitable for this recipe.
Having said all that, the anchovy content is pretty small but the combination here of roasted peppers, tomatoes, garlic and anchovy is lusciously robust. You’ll want to serve this with a warm ciabatta-type bread to mop up the wonderful juices. Usual notes and suggestions at the end…..
OVEN ROASTED MEDITERRANEAN PEPPERS with TOMATOES, GARLIC & anchovies (A Delia Smith recipe)
(Serves 8 as an appetizer)
4 large red peppers of equal size
4 medium tomatoes
2 cloves of garlic, peeled and sliced very thinly
8 anchovy fillets, drained of oil
Freshly milled black pepper
Extra virgin olive oil
Fresh shredded basil leaves to serve
Pre-heat oven to 350F / 180C
Line a shallow roasting pan with foil (high sided pans will prevent the edges from browning)
Skin the tomatoes by cutting a small X in one end and pouring boiling water over them to cover. After a minute, drain and slip the skins off. Quarter the tomatoes.
Cut each pepper in half including through the stalk for appearances sake. Carefully cut out the white membrane and seeds. Arrange cut side up in the roasting pan.
Divide the skinned tomatoes cut sides down between each pepper half. Scatter each with very thinly sliced garlic and snip one anchovy fillet per pepper half into little pieces over the tomatoes and garlic. Give a good grind of black pepper and drizzle one very generous teaspoon of olive oil into each.
Place on a high shelf and roast for approx 1 hour or until the edges have started to blacken slightly and the peppers are tender.
The foil will have captured the delicious oozing juices. Once they’ve cooled and you’ve arranged the peppers on serving plates, drizzle the juices all over them then scatter with some shredded basil leaves.
They’re best eaten at room temperature and can be made ahead and kept covered in the fridge for a couple of days. Bring them back to room temp before serving and make sure you have some really good bread as an accompaniment.
You’ll notice there’s no salt in this recipe – the anchovies take care of that.
Got one or two left over? Remove the stalk, pulverize to a chunky sauce; add some pitted black olives (or not); warm through and serve over pasta with freshly grated parmesan and more shredded basil leaves.
Or…throw one with its juices (minus stalk) into a food processor with 8 oz softened cream cheese for a wonderful spread/dip.
Green peppers are totally unsuitable for this recipe as they’re under-ripe yellow peppers. You could use yellow or orange peppers but I prefer red.
Happy New Year!