Friday, August 21, 2009
In Season NW: A Plethora of Peppers
Like Christmas, it takes awhile to get here, but when it finally arrives it does so with a vengeance. And from the evidence seen on a recent visit to several markets around town and from the stakes I've had to use on my plants here at home, peppers are in, baby, and they're in big this year.
In mesmerizing colors from iridescent orange to a yellow that requires shielding your eyes, not to mention shades of green from light to almost-black and a purple that would put Barney to shame (dinosaur, not Frank), I find myself needing to get at least one of each. Or more.
Which means, of course, that I get home and start referring to myself in the third person while unpacking the bag. As in, "Who does she think is going to eat all this?" Fortunately for her…I mean, me…there is a handy solution in a Basque dish called piperade (pron. peep-eh-RAHD).
Basically just a pile of sautéed peppers with a little onion, garlic and tomato thrown in and then served on top of a thick slice of toasted bread, it can be topped with poached eggs or, even better, the eggs can be poached in the piperade itself, using only one pan for the whole dish (my favorite kind of cooking).
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 onion, coarsely chopped
4 cloves garlic, chopped fine
4-6 sweet peppers (more if you use smaller ones like Jimmy Nardello's), chopped
4 large tomatoes, coarsely chopped or 2 c. canned roma tomatoes
2 tsp. Spanish pimenton (paprika), regular or smoked
1/2 tsp. dried thyme or 2 tsp. fresh thyme
2 bay leaves
Salt to taste
4 thick slices bread (like Como or Campagne)
Heat olive oil over medium heat in large, open sauté pan. Add onions and garlic and sauté till translucent. Add peppers and sauté till tender. Add tomatoes and stir till they start to break down, then add paprika, thyme, bay leaves and salt. Reduce heat to simmer for one hour or until liquid is reduced by half. Make eight indentations in the piperade and break an egg into each one. Cover and cook till whites are cooked through and yolks are still runny. While eggs cook, toast bread slices in toaster and brush with olive oil (or brush each one with olive oil and toast under broiler). Place a slice on a plate or in a bowl and top with two eggs and lots of piperade. Repeat with other slices. Serves four.