Sunday, November 4, 2007

Farfale Salad with Grilled Peppers

When my camera is fixed I will take a photo of this salad and post it. It is lovely jewel-like salad, flavorful and healthy. I make a big bowl once or twice a week and keep in the fridge to snack on.

3 red peppers
3 yellow peppers
3 orange peppers
2 green peppers
6 gloves garlic
1 large cucumber
3 tomatoes

1 1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1 tsp. herbes de provence
1/4 tsp. crushed oregano.

3 quarts water
1/2 tsp. sea salt
enough Farfale pasta to make 1 quart

Put 3/4 cup olive oil in large roasting pan. Cut peppers in half, remove stems and seeds and place skin side up in roasting pan. Add the cloves of garlic, skins still on. Broil at 400 degrees for 10-15 minutes, until peppers are blackened. Cool. Take peppers out, and reserve olive oil. Remove skin. Chop in small pieces all but one half of each color pepper, red, yellow, orange and green. Put in small bowl. Remove skins from roasted garlic and mash up. Mix with the peppers pieces. Cut up cucumber and tomatoes and add to peppers and garlic. Add 3/4 cup of the olive oil not used in the grilled peppers, 1/4 tsp. sea salt and herbs. Stir and let sit. Reserve the remaining half peppers for garnish.

Boil up farfale pasta according to package directions, adding 1/4 tsp, sea salt to the water. Be careful not to overcook. Drain and toss with the olive oil reserved from the roasting pan. Cool, and then add the diced peppers and olive oil mixture. Stir in Balsamic vinegar. Cut remaining peppers into strips and garnish salad with them.

This salad is even better the next day, after the flavors have mixed. This makes a nice vegetarian dish - make it even healthier with some brolloci and carrots -- but it's also good with tuna or medium rare strips of beef sirloin. That's the great thing about pasta salad, it leaves a lot of room for individual variations.

Where I Want to Go When I Die

Grilled peppers always make me think of dinner at L J's home in Vermont. She made them, perfectly, the flesh cooked just right, soft and tender but not mushy, lightly lightly caramelized in their own sweet spicy juices. Many attempts to replicate them brought mixed and never quite satisfactory results.

But L J had the advantage of working in a near-perfect kitchen. L J had an old Victorian house, with a huge kitchen that was bigger than the apartment I was living in at the time. It was a room of dark woods and rounded corners with a mix of warm and cheery colors only she would think of and pull off. She had the dining table in the kitchen as well as two sofas and a couple of comfortable overstuffed armchairs. Her kitchen was her living room. Brilliant.

It was well-organized -- she had a lot of workspace and room to move, and built in storage cupboards that were big enough to hide a body. But it wasn't anal, it was comfortable and cozy without being cloying, and full of endearing details, like little lamps that gave the illusion of eating in moonlight. It was the most beautiful kitchen I've ever seen.

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