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