Yesterday my daughter and I had big treat at lunchtime: A Cena in Twickenham (one of my very favourite restaurants of all time), near Richmond bridge, does a wonderful Sunday lunch menu and we enjoyed a long, leisurely meal before a slow walk home along the river. I knew we wouldn’t want to eat very much in the evening so roasted some peppers in the morning both Piedmontese style and my own version adapted to peppers I had in Greece, to eat with some crusty country bread I’d bought in Paul: good for soaking up the delicious juices.
I’ve been making Piedmontese peppers since the late 1970s when I was lucky to be editing lots of cookery books in job as an editor at Methuen. Lucky, because I’ve been collecting cookery books since my teens and so it was a great passion of mine. At last count, my collection stood at about 200 books … I always use Elizabeth David’s recipe from her classic Italian Food. The smell of them cooking is amazing but the taste is glorious. How can something so simple taste so good! The only change I made yesterday was to follow Simon Hopkinson’s advice in his great TV series, The Good Cook, which was to skin the tomatoes before stuffing them into the cavity of the halved peppers – which is definitely a ‘good cook’ tip.
Into one half of the peppers I crumbled some feta cheese (I like the Kolios make that I buy in Waitrose). I didn’t actually eat these in Greece but one evening had chicken stuffed with red peppers and feta at Kastro Taverna (see Beautiful Kardamyi post below), which gave me the idea. I’ve tried it out before and with the addition of cheese it makes a great light supper dish – even when you haven’t eaten lunch at A Cena earlier!
Peppers cooked this way are best served lukewarm or room temperature – so making them earlier in the day was perfect. The Greeks always serve food warm rather than hot and I think this isn’t just about it being a nicer way to eat cooked food in the hot summer, but because it’s better for our digestion and therefore healthier. And with something like roast peppers, it brings out the flavour better too.
Nicola and I enjoyed the peppers in the garden in the evening, relaxing in the warmth of the summer’s day, and sipping some delicious, chilled Villa Maria rose with them. If you try this too – enjoy!