Slow cooked peperonata

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When the shuk has a glut of peppers; red, yellow, orange and green, one of my favourite things to do is to make my version of peperonata – a slow cooked sweet pepper salad which is fantastic served as a stand alone salad in a mezze, but is particularly good as a sandwich relish with either some thinly sliced beef or salty cheese.

Whilst some recipes call for the addition of tomatoes, onion or any number of other veggies, I like to keep it simple, using peppers in a variety of colours, garlic and whatever hardy herb I have to hand – rosemary or thyme are the best bet. This is a fantastic way of using up peppers that are past their best or which are sold cheaply at the market because they don’t look so pretty.

As the peppers cook, the natural sugars break down (if you see a recipe calling for added sugar – resist!) and you’re left with a finished result that both looks and tastes fantastic. I throw in a good lug of balsamic vinegar at the end which reduces and adds in a little acidity to cut the sweetness somewhat and just imagine what happens when you throw that onto a sandwich – the juices of the peppers and the balsamic soaking into the bread take an everyday sandwich up several notches and make it into something special.

Peppers in pan

Ingredients

half a dozen peppers in different colours, deseeded and cut into think slices

several fat cloves of garlic, roughly sliced

a couple of branches of rosemary

balsamic vinegar

oil for cooking with – if you want to use Olive Oil then do so (not extra virgin) I tend to use canola and to add a splash of Olive.

In a heavy frying pan (I used a cast iron one – my favourite cooking vessel and highly recommended), heat the oil on a low heat. Add in your peppers, garlic and herbs.

leave on the stove top to cook nice and slowly whilst you get on with your other cooking. Stir the peppers occasionally but be patient – they’re going to cook for about 45 minutes to an hour. It’s worth the wait.

You should get some colour on the skins of the peppers and they should go soft but you’ll really know they’re about done when you can smell their sweetness. That’s when it’s time to add a good lug of balsamic vinegar – a couple of tablespoons of the stuff. Leave it on the heat for a further 5 minutes and then turn off the gas, allowing the latent heat to continue cooking away.

Remove the rosemary stalks before serving. If it lasts that long this is even better the next day!

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