I don’t claim to be a salad connoisseur. I’m a fan of arugala, pear, and gorgonzola salads; dried cranberry, bleu cheese, walnut, and spinach salads; and, when I’m feeling bad, Caesar salads. I don’t actually order from the salad portion of the menu all that often, though I do look it over at each meal to give my table mates the impression that I *might* actually go the healthy route and not immediately gravitate towards a burger. However, I’m pretty sure that roasted bell pepper salads don’t grace all that many menus — at least in the DC metro region.
But recently I hosted an eat-a-thon (basically an all-day eating extravaganza), and needed a salad to go with my home made manicotti (more on that later). I could’ve gone with one of my old standbys, but I firmly believe that it’s always more fun to try something new. So when I came across a recipe for Roasted Bell Pepper Salad in my Williams-Sonoma Soups, Salads, & Starters cookbook, I figured, “What the heck?” and gave it a go.
I was feeding six people, not four (as the recipe anticipates), so I upped the peppers from two of each to three of each. This increased my roasting time to 40 minutes from 30 minutes. I also really like garlic (Chicken with 40 Cloves of Garlic, anyone?), so in addition to rubbing the inside of the serving dish with garlic halves, I also put six or so garlic halves in the dish itself to marinate with the other flavors (no one actually ate these cloves). I did leave the amount of olive oil the same, since it seemed sufficient.
I left this dish in the refrigerator overnight to marinate and set it out two hours before dinner so that it could return to room temperature. This is definitely the way to go — at room temp, you can really appreciate the sweetness of the peppers, the bits of fresh parsley, and (my favorite) the garlic. The salad keeps in the fridge for a while, if you can stop yourself from eating it all in one sitting.
Roasted Bell Pepper Salad via Williams-Sonoma Soups, Salads, & Starters
2 large yellow bell peppers
2 large red bell peppers
1 clove garlic, cut in half
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh flat-leaf (Italian) parsley
6 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Arrange the bell peppers in a shallow baking dish. Bake, turning them often (I did it once every 5 minutes), until they become completely soft, about 30 minutes.
Remove from the oven. While the bell peppers are still warm, peel them, if desired (I left the skins on). Split in half lengthwise and remove and discard the stems, seeds, and ribs. Cut them into long, narrow strips.
Rub the inside of a shallow serving bowl with the cut sides of the garlic cloves. Arrange the bell pepper strings in the bowl and season to taste with salt and pepper. Sprinkle with the parsley and lightly drizzle with the oil. Stir well. Let stand at room temperature for about 2 hours before serving, to allow the flavors to blend.