A couple of years ago John and I were on a cruise around the Adriatic Sea and one of the ports of call was Bari. Exploring on foot can build up quite an appetite. Usually I will have already researched a place to eat but Bari was one that I couldn’t find anything that wasn’t ‘touristy’ (we crave authentic). Exhausted from the blazing heat, humidity, and starting to feel a bit cranky, we stumbled upon a place to eat that wasn’t rustic and felt, perhaps, a bit too upscale for what we wanted. Still, my stomach was telling me we had to stop now otherwise I was about to keel over. In we went, and with John’s Italian language skills of that of a 3-year old, we managed to order what we thought were going to be just a ‘few’ antipasti. Yikes! We must have had enough for 10 people! Our server brought us marinated white anchovies, assorted olives, octopus, peppers, zucchini, fresh mozzarella, focaccia, but one dish that stood out was grilled peppers. The grilled peppers were silky smooth, delicately bathed in olive oil, scented with chopped basil and garlic. I mopped up the juices with bread (not the focaccia) but fresh bread that came out of the oven. We always chat to people and our server (owner I think) kept bringing us food to try. I think it was due to our enthusiasm for food and a willingness to want to try new things. But in the end we had to tell him we were stuffed. I have added a couple of ingredients which, I think, highlights the sweetness from the peppers. I hope you will enjoy this dish as much as we did. It’s a lovely way to re-visit the food of Italy in your own home.
Serves 4 to 6 as an antipasto
3 bell peppers (red, yellow, orange or all one color)
1 to 2 cloves of garlic, minced
splash of extra-virgin olive oil
splash of white balsamic vinegar or sherry vinegar
6 to 8 basil leaves, sliced
1 tablespoon capers, rinsed
handful Kalamata olives, pitted and sliced
Fire up the barbeque and place whole bell peppers on grill. Grill until charred on all sides. Remove from heat and place peppers in a large bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and allow peppers to cool enough to handle. Remove charred skin, seeds and membrane. Slice peppers and place in a clean bowl. Add rest of the ingredients and toss to combine. Season with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.
The Culinary Chase’s Note: This dish is gorgeous on its own or used in pasta, as bruschetta topping, in sandwiches etc. These will keep in the refrigerator for up to 5 days…if they last that long! Enjoy!