Summer always catches me by surprise. There's the long build up through Spring, with strawberries and other early crops, while my imagination dances in anticipation for summer peaches and blueberries. In June I watch my garden warily, convinced that none of my tomato plants are going to fruit. I worry that my crop will be small. Then comes the first green tomato, followed by another, and then suddenly my plants are full of tomatoes hiding among the leaves. My first sungold cherries ripen, and I pluck them off the vine and eat them right in the garden. Finally, my veggie garden announces that summer really is here.
This year I also planted a number of pepper plants, and when my first cubanelles and banana peppers showed themselves, I eagerly picked them.
Then I had to find something to do with them...
North African-Style Roasted Pepper & Tomato Salad
adapted from Kitty Morse's Vegetarian Table : North Africa
Use approximately equal amounts of tomatoes and peppers. For example, if you use four medium tomatoes, then use four medium-ish bell peppers. If you are using smaller peppers, then you'll need more peppers per tomato. I used sweet cubanelles with a few hot banana peppers for a touch of heat, but you can also use bell or anaheim peppers. Do not use jalapeño, thai, cayenne, or other peppers that are normally used primarily for their heat as the main peppers, but they can be a nice accent with other milder peppers.
Two medium tomatoes
Equivalent amount of peppers
1 small onion, peeled and sliced
4-6 garlic cloves, unpeeled
1/2 tsp ground coriander
dash garlic powder
dash ground caraway
dash chili powder
olive oil (1 Tbs max)
lemon juice (~approx 1 - 1.5 Tbs)
salt to taste
Garnish: olives, capers (drained)
Roast garlic cloves at 350 F until very soft — about 15 - 25 minutes, depending on size of cloves. (A toaster oven is perfect for this!)
Grill peppers and tomatoes until evenly black all over. (Either under the broiler or over a gas stove or grill. Watch out for sparks!) Put in a plastic bag or container and let sit. When peppers and tomatoes are cool enough to handle, pull off the blackened skins. Slit the peppers and remove the seeds and membranes. Chop very, very finely. De-seed the tomatoes and chop finely. Put tomatoes and peppers in a colander to drain.
Meanwhile, grill onions until they begin to brown. (You can use your broiler, gas burner, gas grill, or that toaster oven again on the broiler setting.) Chop the onions finely. Squeeze the garlic pulp out of its skins and mash with a fork. Mix all ingredients, salt to taste, and add the olive and caper garnish.