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Roasted Red Pepper Salad with White Beans and Anchovy Sauce

roasted red pepper salad with white beans & anchovy sauce

I enjoy listening to stories of the past and with my mother in-law visiting, it’s the perfect time to hear more.  Aida was born on the tiny island of Gibraltor 89 years ago.  She moved to England in 1946 and has what I call a lovely Spanish/English accent.  We are never short on conversation, our talks cover the whole gamut – travel, current events, fashion and of course food!  While I was preparing this salad Aida told me her mother used  to stuff her red peppers with meat, cheese, eggs and served with tomato sauce (everything back then was done from scratch).  She remembers her mom, Angelina Bocarisa, making her tomato sauce either by blanching the tomatoes to remove the skins or over an open fire.   Ovens were not common in homes back then and the women from the village would take their bread or joints (roasts) to the baker.  A steel sticker would be handed out as a receipt and given a time to come back.   Can you imagine how busy the baker must have been on a Sunday!  The ladies would come and collect their baked goods and walk back to their homes with hot food in hand.  When Aida moved to England she was fascinated with how advanced the country seemed compared to her own…electric irons, washers, tumble dryers, hoovers, ovens etc.

As I sit here typing this post rehashing my conversation with Aida, I look around me and see how much is taken for granted.   Nearly everything is readily available at our fingertips but are we truly grateful?  Hmm, I wonder.

Serves 4
adapted from Martha Stewart

4 small red bell peppers
4 anchovy fillets packed in olive oil, minced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 to 2 teaspoons sherry vinegar
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 can (15oz.) small white beans, drained and rinsed
Parmesan cheese, grated (2 tablespoons)
1 cup packed spicy baby greens, such as watercress or arugula/rocket

Char bell peppers over the flames of a gas burner, turning with tongs until blackened and blistered, about 10 minutes. (Alternatively, broil them 2 or 3 inches from heat source).  Transfer peppers to a bowl, cover with saran wrap, and let stand until cool. Scrape off skins with a paring knife and wipe flesh clean with a paper towel. Keeping stems intact, cut peppers in half lengthwise, then remove and discard seeds. Arrange on a platter and season with salt and pepper.

roasted red peppers & white beansTo make the anchovy sauce, whisk together anchovies, garlic, vinegar, oil, and parsley in a medium bowl.  Add beans and toss to coat. Spoon over peppers and top with Parmesan and greens.

The Culinary Chase’s Note:  Add 1 teaspoon of sherry vinegar first to the sauce before adding more.  Enjoy!

Avocado and Cheddar Quesadilla

avo quesadillaLooking for an easy dish to whip up for dinner?  Quesadillas are a cinch to prepare and take minutes to cook.  Brie and mango quesadilla was one of the first ones I ever made and it stands as a family favorite to this day.  Quesadillas are perfect as a snack or party food.  Dress them up with your favorite condiments such as sour cream, salsa, or guacamole.  Healthwise, avocados are a good source of fiber, vitamin c, folate, anti-inflammatory benefits (arthritis) and more. This simple avocado and cheddar quesadilla will have your family asking for seconds!

You will need –

ancient grain tortillas (or favorite tortilla)

cheddar cheese, grated (or favorite cheese)

cilantro, coarsely chopped

ripe avocado, mashed

quesadillaCut avocado in half, remove pit and skin.  In a small bowl mash avocado.  Place one tortilla on a board and add some of the mashed avocado making sure to spread it to the edges of the tortilla.  Next, add cilantro and top with cheddar.  Place another tortilla on top and lightly apply pressure (to help the ingredients adhere to the tortillas).  In a non-stick frying pan over medium-high heat, add quesadilla.  Cook like you would a grilled cheese sandwich…a few minutes per side and remember to be careful when flipping.  The tortilla is done when the cheese has melted.

The Culinary Chase’s Note:  Add chopped tomato for a bit of color and texture.  You can make just about any combination that suits your fancy or whatever is in your refrigerator.  Another quesadilla idea? Try this chicken and sweet pepper quesadilla.  Enjoy!