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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!

Bulgur Salad with Cannellini Beans, Feta & Mint

Whenever I feel as though we’ve eaten too much red meat, we take a break and consume loads of veggies and ancient grains such as bulgur.  It’s this sort of balance that keeps us healthy…I can’t recall the last time I had a cold or the flu.  Bulgur is made from precooked wheat berries.  It’s a perfect substitute for rice as it has more fiber and is low on the glycemic food index.  We enjoy this ancient grain and especially like its chewy, mild nutty flavor.  I’m sure you’ve eaten it before in dishes such as tabbouleh and pilafs.  Because it’s low in fat and calories, it’s a perfect way to feel satiated without adding pounds.  Bulgur is already partially cooked and therefore needs little time for preparation –  perfect for a quick meal without jeopardizing nutrition.

Serves 4 to 6
adapted from BHG

1 1/2 cups water
1 cup bulgur
2 tablespoons olive oil
6 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/4 cup olive oil
1 teaspoon lime zest
3 tablespoons lime juice
3 cups shredded purchased roasted chicken
1-15 ounce can cannellini beans or chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1 cup chopped yellow and red sweet pepper
4 oz. feta cheese, crumbled
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 cup chopped parsley
1 cup chopped fresh mint
salt and pepper

In a medium saucepan bring water to boiling. Add bulgur and 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Return to a boil then reduce heat. Simmer, covered, for 10 minutes. Remove from heat and let stand 10 minutes or until water is absorbed and bulgur is tender. Transfer to a large bowl.

In a small saucepan heat 2 tablespoons olive oil over high heat. Add garlic and reduce heat to medium high. Cook and stir until garlic starts to turn golden around the edges. Remove from heat. Stir garlic and oil into bulgur mixture.

For the dressing, in a screw-top jar combine red wine vinegar, 1/4 cup olive oil, lime zest, and lime juice. Cover and shake well. Stir dressing into bulgur mixture. Add chicken, cannellini beans, sweet pepper, feta cheese, cumin, 3/4 cup of the parsley, and 3/4 cup of the mint to bulgur mixture; toss to mix well.  Season and top with remaining parsley and mint.

The Culinary Chase’s Note:  This is such a hearty salad and loaded with nutritional goodness! You can substitute the bulgur for cooked brown rice or quinoa.  Enjoy!