Mediterranean Sea Breeze – Sweet Pepper Salad

When I was preparing to move to France my office mate bought me a gorgeous coffee table book illustrating French provincial recipes. This one made my mouth water just looking at the photos. I served it immediately to our next guests. I had to buy a couple of the ingredients that I wasn’t accustomed to having around the house like raspberry vinegar and shallots and fresh herbs and even the coarse salt. Not only did this flavor paring win my heart, it has become a staple in my home along with it’s oh-so traditional provincial ingredients. Now, years later, I never buy pre-fab salad dressing, I whip up my own on the spot with lovely heart healthy ingredients like Olive oil and creative vinegar.
Recipes like this are the reason I started blogging. I needed a place to store all my favorite recipes and share them easily with friends. My cooking style has progressed over the years and my pantry has become more about quality than quantity.
If you want to know what to expect, think Méditerranéen. Azur-Coast. Nice. Monocco. Where the endless Mediterranean sea laps the sandy beaches of millionnaires and their yachts. Every moment of preparing this dish will transport you with rich aromas, from the first charing of the sweet bell peppers to the tearing of the fragrant basil leaves at the end. Feel the salty-sea breeze tousle your hair.

Sweet Pepper Salad

2 lb (1 k) red and orange capsicum bell peppers
1 clove garlic
large pinch of coarse salt
1 tbsp (càs) raspberry vinegar
1/4 C (6 cl) olive oil
2 shallots
fresh basil sprigs, leaves and flower buds
Prepare a fire in a charcoal grill or preheat a broiler oven or griller. If using a broiler or electric griller arrange the peppers on a baking sheet and line the baking sheet with aluminum foil to make clean-up easy. Place the peppers on the grill rack or under the broiler, turning several times until the skins are blistered and irregularly charred on all sides. 20-30minutes.
Place the grilled peppers on a plate and enclose the plate in a plastic bag with the open end folded beneath the plate. Let stand for 30 minutes; the steam will loosen the skins. Working over a seive over a bowl to catch the juices, pinch the skins to loosen them from the flesh and pull them off. Discard the skins and the core and the seeds. Tear each pepper into 3 or 4 sections. Set aside the bowl of juices.
Arrange the pepper sections, peeled sides up and side by side touching on a platter. In a mortar pound together the garlic, salt and pepper to form a paste. Stir in the vinegar, the reserved pepper juices and finally the olive oil.
Slice the onion in thin rings. Spoon the sauce evenly over the peppers and scatter the onion rings over the surface. Tear the basil leaves into fragments and crumble the flower buds. Scatter over the top.

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