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Seasonal for some: Baked red bell peppers with tomatoes, pesto and preserved lemons recipe

roasted peppersI love seasonal cooking. The arrival of Winter Celery, beetroot and asparagus has tiny hands clapping with glee at the Cottage Smallholder. But we still buy tomatoes and peppers throughout the year. I look at the little aeroplane label on the pack and feel a twinge of guilt as I place them carefully in the delicates section of my trolley.

There are many ways of preserving these summer harvests for winter use. Perhaps this year I will finally get my act together and bottle them. Oded Schwartz’s Preserving book has loads of great recipes and methods.

It was Danny’s turn to cook this evening but the dark circles around his eyes inspired me to make an experimental veg dish that he could pop into the oven with the baked potatoes when the time came. I used to love Delia’s Piedmont Roasted Peppers and was thinking of preparing these but then I remembered the bizarre combination of ingredients that I have discovered. These seem to enhance the flavour of almost any vegetable. Pesto and preserved lemons. So I returned the anchovies to the fridge and used these instead. Somehow, if I am preparing a dish for someone else’s meal I feel far more relaxed and intuitive.

Having left the dish with instructions, I was thinking about seasonal cooking as Jalopy and I chugged down the High Street this morning. The great thing about blogging is that someone somewhere in the world is reading a recipe that is seasonal. In the Southern hemisphere tomatoes, peppers are being harvested right now.

So if you are a purist seasonal chef, in New Zealand or Australia, this recipe is for you. I was intrigued as to how these peppers would turn out when I reversed into the drive this evening. They smelt good when I pushed open the front door.

We loved the light summery flavours on a dark, bitterly cold winter’s evening. The result was stunning. Distinctive. Fresh, melt in the mouth flavours and a dish to die for. Or at least feign death if you want to eat it the next morning.

We enjoyed these peppers with cold roast chicken and small baked potatoes – perfect for absorbing the juices. They’d be great with fish too and would cut through the fattiness of lamb (chops or a joint). The juices are good so if you serve this as a starter, don’t forget to put good bread on the table.

Baked red bell peppers with tomatoes, pesto and preserved lemons recipe (for 2)

Ingredients:

  • 2 red bell peppers
  • 1 fat clove of garlic (chopped very fine)
  • An eighth of a preserved lemon chopped very fine (available from all good supermarket
  • 2 teaspoonfuls of pesto
  • 8 – 10 quartered baby tomatoes (I left the skins on for flavour)
  • 4 tablespoonfuls of extra virgin olive oil (plus a bit extra if these are big peppers. The oil need to fill at least half way up the side of the half pepper).
  • 4 large teaspoonfuls of dry white wine
  • Freshly milled black pepper
  • salt to taste

Method:

  1. Slice the bell peppers in two and remove the seeds.
  2. Place the halved peppers in an oven proof quiche dish, roasting dish or similar low sided receptacle.
  3. Divide the chopped garlic, preserved lemons and pesto between the 4 halves of pepper. Add the tomatoes and pour over the olive oil and white wine.
  4. Season with ground black pepper and bake for 50-60 minutes at !90c (170c fan). If you are serving this as a starter, make sure that you have good crusty bread on the table. (Discard The blackened edges – these indicate that the rest of the peppers will be melt in the mouth.)

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7 Comments

  1. Fiona Nevile

    Hi SallyGardener

    I’ve just nipped over to your blog. Really interesting – eating seasonally is hard to do.

    You have quite put me off the peppers!

    We are eating our own white sprouting broccoli and Swiss Chard at the moment. The latter is a great investment as it is a cut and come again vegetable and goes right through the winter.

  2. SallyGardener

    I loved the recipe, but yes I’ll be saving it till August when the peppers come back in season here!

    I so agree that strawberries and asparagus are special because you have to wait for them. It actually makes our lives far more boring if we can get everything all the time. I’ve been doing a little experiment this year to eat seasonally all the time – theyearofeatingseasonally.wordpress.com – and I’ve found things have got a lot more interesting in the kitchen! At the moment it’s purple sprouting broccoli, spring greens and forced rhubarb. Mmm-hmm, delicious. But you try finding forced rhubarb in the shops (including supermarkets) that isn’t from Holland…

    and by the way – have you ever thought how those home-grown peppers get into the supermarkets at this time of year? a) they’re preserved for months with chemicals since last autumn or b) they’re in a very heavily heated greenhouse, with all the implications that has for global warming.

    Probably best to only eat home-grown produce when it’s in season. Or, of course, grow your own 😀

  3. Fiona Nevile

    Hi Cherry

    Lovely to think of you picking your owm toms when we are just setting the seed here!

    Great idea – freezing the baby toms. Thanks.

    Hi Sally

    Yes most supermarkets have the stickers now.

    I try and avoid out of season stuff but where would I be without lemons?

    Hi Magic Cochin

    Our local Tesco and Waitrose both stock East Anglian carrots, leeks, pots etc. I tend to go for these as they usually look fresher.

    What a great surprised it must have been to find Steven’s carrots!

    The flavour of UK asparagus and strawberries wins hands down – worth waiting for!

    Hi Kate

    I didn’t know this. I must check the peppers out this weekend.

    Thanks for the tip about the tomato pesto. Sounds delicious.

    I love rhubarb…

  4. Even in the winter you can get English grown peppers from supermarkets- and even some tomatos.Waitrose and Tescos have had uk grown peppers lately. Oven baked peppers and pesto is something we often have as it is just so delicious.Good made with tomato pesto too and add some of those sweet white onions cut into slices.
    Forced rhubarb season is starting-yum yum!

  5. magic cochin

    I know just how you feel – I admit to buying tomatoes and peppers in winter too. But I do try to eat seasonal and local produce as much as possible. Our local Sainsbury’s is selling more locally sourced veg – my heart leapt with pride when I found carrots grown by a boy I was at primary school with – he now farms in Norfolk. I felt like grabbing the store PA and shouting “buy Steven’s carrots because he’s a nice hard-working bloke!”
    But yesterday … grrrrr I still feel so annoyed … just inside the door was a mountain of asparagus (from Peru) and strawberries (too annoyed to look at the label!) … IT’S FEBRUARY! … asparagus and strawberries are special because you have to wait for them!
    Norfolk carrots never get top billing, but they are sometimes there if you look!

    Celia

  6. I didn’t know there were airoplane stickers on food now. What a good idea. Is that in all supermarkets?

    A Swiss friend of mine told me over 20 years ago that she always bought local produce, because that way she knows it’s in season. At the time I didn’t fully appreciate the concept (I do now), but her comment has always stuck in my mind.

    P.S. Have looked up Oded Schwartz on Amazon. Just learning and learning on this site!

  7. Very interesting to read this post Fiona. It is a beautiful evening and I have just come inside after picking tomatoes which ripened today, and looking at the peppers which are almost ready to harvest. We have been digging potatoes for a few weeks now, and are on the second planting of lettuces and beans (french and butter beans)
    This year we have planted extra tiny tomatoes which I will freeze – just wash and pop into an icecream container, perhap to drop into soups and stews later when winter comes.

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