Is it just me or is there something exceptionally cruel about going back to work after a long weekend? I definitely have a case of the Muesday’s today. Fortunately, M and I booked a much needed weekend away in June so we are looking forward to that, which will quickly be followed by a very long four day weekend for Fourth of July. We celebrated this weekend by cutting out of work early on Friday and bringing the dog up to our local wine bar to sit outside and enjoy the weather. Saturday, M was still feeling under the weather, so I spent the morning walking around the Farmer’s Market and Clarendon and then M joined me in the afternoon for a late lunch at Faccia Luna. We followed that up with gelato because ice cream and the start of Summer just work together. Sunday, friends invited us over to barbeque and asked that we bring a “Summery app.” They later confessed that only I could be tasked with such a request because they knew I would deliver. I thought long and hard about what to make…truthfully, this appetizer works year round but the addition of fresh basil makes it exceptional in the Summer. The peppers can also double as a fantastic burger topping, if you want to get extra fancy. I suggest making this in advance as it does tend to be a little bit labor intensive, but if you are tight on time, you can cheat and use store bought roasted red peppers.
Wash your peppers. I used 5 peppers for about 12 adults and there weren’t any leftovers.
Place one pepper on each of your gas burners. (You can do this without a gas stove — place the peppers under a broiler or on a grill and follow the same directions.)
Turn your burners on high and allow the peppers to char.
Keep turning them until they are charred on all sides. You can stand them on their head and tail (carefully) to get the ends.
Immediately remove the peppers from the stove and place them into a brown paper bag. Close the bag. (You can use one large bag instead of the lunch size, we were out.)
While the peppers cool, make your marinade. In a large glass dish, combine two tablespoons of olive oil, one tablespoon of lemon juice and balsamic vinegar, two minced garlic cloves and a tablespoon or so of Italian seasoning.
Once the peppers have cooled enough to handle, rip open the bag to form a placemat of sorts. Trust me on this one, it’s about to get messy.
Take a paper towel and rub the char off your pepper. Do not — I repeat — do not run the pepper under water to remove the char. You lose all of the flavor which is the point of the roasting.
Once your peppers are clean (they don’t have to be perfect), they should look something like this:
Now it’s time to make them look pretty. Cut out the stem and attached seeds.
Slice the pepper down one side along a ridge and open the pepper up.
Trim off the white membrane. At this point, you have a choice: you can leave the curled parts on or trim them off. I trim off the ends — DO NOT throw them out. Toss them in your marinade and use them for a salad or in pasta.
Slice the peppers down the ridges and place them in the baking dish of marinade.
Turn to coat and let them sit in the fridge for a few hours.
When ready to serve, arrange the peppers on a serving dish.
Top each pepper with a slice of Parmesan cheese (I ran my vegetable peeler down the cheese to make thin strips). Drizzle with reduced balsamic vinegar.
Repeat with remaining peppers and top with thinly sliced basil. Season with salt and pepper and serve!