During weeks when I have my cheese together, I like to take an afternoon and spend a couple of hours preparing foods that will make easy lunches throughout the week. I learned this in my line cook days, when prepping elements of meals ahead of time was essential to composing dishes when they were ordered. The same principle holds true at home.
On Sunday, for example, along with the deliciousness pictured above, I roasted a tray of cauliflower, which is great for added texture on salads or to reheat as a side;
I stewed, blended, and portioned for the freezer a big pot of applesauce;
I composed a green salad vinaigrette (in a repurposed jar with a peeling label, yes,) and made a batch of homemade ranch dressing.
If you're thinking ranch dressing is pretty low-brow, I don't have a problem with that. You must try the homemade version as a dip for raw veggies or as a spread on a chicken-bacon-ranch pressed sandwich. Tell me you wouldn't eat this for lunch?
I also par-cooked a tray of bacon and hard-boiled some eggs, but in my airheadedness forgot to get any pictures of them.
If I'd had more time and energy, I might have roasted a chicken or made a batch of tuna salad. But it really doesn't matter. All I seem to care about are these pickled peppers.
They're tart and sweet and garlicky and unctuous and simply perfect. Begin by roasting peppers until they're al dente and caramelized, proceed by submerging them in a spicy, herbaceous pickling liquid, and end with putting them in your mouth.
The possibilities for these beauties are virtually endless. They're fantastic sprinkled liberally over a salad. They make another kind of killer pressed sandwich when piled on good bread with thickly sliced fresh mozzarella and torn basil, with or without salami and cappicollo. I would go crazy over a spread of these peppers, a jar of capers, and some crostini spread with goat cheese at a cocktail party. And I may or may not have been eating them straight from the jar at the open refrigerator door.
During the heat of the summer, when bell peppers are cheap and plentiful, I'll buy a case of them at the farmer's market and set to making a giant quantity of these and putting them through the whole water bath canning process. But with a small batch like this one, there's no need. While this quart jar will keep nearly indefinitely in the fridge, in our house it won't last longer than a week.
Pickled Roasted Peppers
makes 1 quart jar
- 6 bell peppers (red, orange, yellow, or a mix of all three)
- 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
- 6 Tablespoons white distilled vinegar
- 3/4 c water
- 2 Tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons granulated sugar
- 2 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1-2 garlic cloves, depending on your taste
- pinch red pepper flakes
- 1 thyme sprig
Begin by roasting the bell peppers using your preferred method. I preheat the broiler to high and spread the whole peppers on a foil-lined sheet tray, then broil them for about 5 minutes on each of their 4 sides until they're good and charred. Transfer the peppers to a bowl and cover them with a plate until they've cooled.
Meanwhile, make the brine. Combine the vinegars, water, sugar, and salt in a small saucepan and bring to a boil, stirring often. Simmer just until the sugar is dissolved, then allow to cool completely.
When the peppers are cool enough to handle, slip the charred skins off and pull out the stems and seeds. Whatever you do, don't rinse them to remove the skins; you'll also remove much of the fire-roasted flavor you've just achieved. Tear or slice the peppers into whatever size pieces you think you'll want to use.
Add the garlic, red pepper flakes, and thyme sprig to a clean quart jar. Pile the peppers in next. Pour the cooled brine over the top, using a wooden spoon handle or chopstick to move the peppers around so the brine gets in and around them. Screw the lid on and refrigerate for 24 hours before devouring.