Insalata di Peperoni e Capperi | Sweet Capsicum Salad with Tomato Dressing and Capers

Bugialli died recently. He was instrumental in bringing Italian regional food to the US – beginning with his first book in 1977, Food of Italy. Surprisingly, he didn’t become as well known in other parts of the world, but that might have been by design.

When French cuisine was being celebrated in the 1970s, Bugialli argued that Italian cooking also deserved to be taken seriously, beginning with the understanding that it varies by region. This fundamental fact, true of any great cuisine, is so often bypassed as we delve into foreign foods – and today the great internet machine condenses ancient and complex cuisines into a few popular dishes. Bugialli, with his love of his own heritage, scoured Italy for regional dishes and published authoritative books on many sub-cuisines of Italy. When we think about the handful of people who have been instrumental in exciting other countries about the cuisine of their own country, excited enough to alter the supply-and-demand chain of ingredients, it is difficult to more than a couple. Roden, Child, David, Thompson – can I include Oliver in this list? – all English speaking passionate foodies who fell in love with the food and food philosophy of a different country. Bugialli and Jaffrey are two of the few who have successfully translated their own cuisine in a way that not only is acceptable to others but has also driven culinary change.

You might expect there to be more people who have achieved notoriety in this way. The difficulty is, of course, that one needs to be able to view the food – ingredients, processes, techniques, history, associated stories – through the eyes of the intended audience. This is easiest if you are yourself a member of your target audience, and incredibly difficult if you are not. The advantage that Jaffrey and Bugialli had was that they both lived and worked in the UK and/or the US for some time before adopting their culinary careers of writing and teaching.

When I returned home from my shortish working sojourn in the North East of France with its amazing foods, wines and cheeses, I scoured the local bookshops for French cookbooks. In the process I also discovered a number seminal cookbooks from other European cuisines. Not that I knew they were seminal at the time but I did have a nose for great cookbooks. That is why I happen to have a much loved Bugialli, but it was a long time before I came to realise how influential he had been and how classic his books are.  This wonderful eggplant dish is one of his.

So today I am making another simple but wonderful dish from his book – a simple salad of capsicums with capers. I learnt a great technique from this recipe. When roasting capsicums in the oven, include a tray of water in the bottom of the oven. The steam from the water begins to lift the skins from the capsicums without over-charring them, so that the flesh is protected. They are more steamed than grilled, leading to a very delicate flavour.

This colourful salad of silky,sweet capsicums, tangy capers and fresh herbs can be a salad or side dish, appetiser, part of a mezze spread, or an addition to a sandwich or wrap. It can also be layered onto other tossed or composed salads. The combination of tomato, garlic, mint and capers is an amazing pairing with the sweet capsicums. Yum!

Similar recipes include Salad of Pasta and Capsicums with Walnuts, Radiant Autumn Salad of Peppers, and Roasted Red Pepper Salad.

Browse all of our Capsicum Salads and our Italian dishes. Or explore our Late Autumn dishes.

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Monk’s Ayurvedic Dal with Green Peppers

One can’t overemphasise the delicious and nourishing qualities of mung beans. Use the whole green beans for delicious, grounded, darker flavours, and the hulled yellow split mung dal for lighter, summery yet nourishing flavours.

This dal comes again from The Monk’s Cookbook by the beloved Monks on Kauai. A very simple dish but one packed with flavours. Their recipe feeds 20, and I have modified it down to a family meal size. It takes no more than about 45 mins to cook – 35 – 40 for the dal and the rest for the tadka.

Similar dishes include Monk’s Bhindi Subzi, Simple Monk’s Dal, and Fenugreek Kuzhambu.

Browse all of our recipes from the Monk’s Cookbook, and all of our Dals. All of our Indian recipes are here, and the Indian Essential Series is here. Or explore our Early Summer dishes.

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Peppery Multi Coloured Salad | Kachumber

Chopped salads are so easy to make with a food processor. Simply add the ingredients and pulse until a perfect texture is achieved. This salad is a breeze with the food processor, and can be made in 2 minutes once the vegetables have been peeled.

The recipe is an Indian salad – salads of this sort are not common but also not unusual. They are a spicy take on English food no doubt. In this one we add black pepper and chilli powder to the salad, and it is dressed with lime juice.

You might like to read What is a Kachumber?

Similar recipes include Capsicum Salad with Tomato Dressing, Chopped Salad, Brown Lentils Sundal, Daikon, Carrot and Coconut Salad, and Maharashtrian Cucumber Salad.

Browse all of our Indian Salads, and our Coleslaw recipes.  All of our Indian recipes are here, and our Indian Essentials are here. Or explore our Mid Spring recipes.

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Capsicum, Feta and Pistachio Spread and Dip

Feta cheese whips up into a smooth, creamy spread when blended with olive oil in the food processor. It’s a Greek thing, and the favourite way to flavour it in Greece is with garlic, mint and capsicums as a piquant dip for pita bread. A common variation on this is to combine it with capsicums, chilli and pistachios.

The beautiful dip and spread can be served in any number of ways. Serve with crudité or toasted baguette, warmed focaccia, toast, or flat bread. Place on a platter with veggie sticks and crackers. Serve it with radishes and cucumber spears for dipping. Lather it on grilled sweet corn and top with  fresh herbs and grated Mizithra cheese or grated haloumi. Drizzle dakos or friselle with tomato juice and a good olive oil and top with this dip.

Similar recipes include Olive, Pistachio and Pomegranate SaladYoghurt, Feta and Mustard Dip, Orange and Pecan Cream Cheese, and Burnt Spring Onion Dip.

Browse all of our Dips and Spreads, and all of our Feta dishes. Or explore our Mid Summer recipes.

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Slow Braised Red Peppers in Olive Oil

When you are on your own (or not), and you have some left over red peppers in the fridge, and you are thinking, quick and easy eating for supper, take the red pepper (or two) and slow cook it in olive oil with some thyme (oh the aroma!).

Similar recipes include Roasted Red Pepper Salad with Mozzarella and White Beans, Grilled Sweet Peppers and Eggplant Salad, and Roasted Red Peppers Salad.

Browse all of our Capsicum recipes and all of our Italian dishes. Or simply browse our Mid Spring collection of dishes.

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Baked Feta with Tomatoes and Red Capsicum

Baked Feta is a perfect mezza dish, served with crackers or flatbread. Flavoursome, soft, mouth watering, the baked feta is aromatic and elicits sounds of approval from your friends at your shared table. It is the sort of dish that you can make at the last minute – your friends arrive unexpectedly at meal time, as they do.

Or it is a great snack, mid afternoon, with a pot of mint tea. And it goes really well on Summery days when the BBQ is lit and people are milling around, nibbling, while the salads are made and the vegetable kebabs are cooking. We have also had it on a Winter’s day as we sit around the fire, reading, writing and chatting. Best of all, it is a perfect Summer Holidays dish, when no-one wants to cook much at all.

This recipe is a mish-mash of Italian and Greek. Definitely Mediterranean.

Similar recipes include Slow Braised Peppers in Olive Oil, Parsley and Barley Salad with Feta, Du Puy Lentils with Feta, and Baked Eggplant with Feta.

Browse all of our other Feta dishes, our Italian recipes and our Greek dishes. Or explore our Late Winter recipes.

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Pasta and Roasted Sweet Peppers Salad with Walnuts

A pasta salad! Some may say this is corny, but we love them, and they are also such a good way to use up left over cooked pasta. This one takes some sweet roasted peppers – at least some red ones, but add green, yellow and orange if you have them, and tosses them with any cooked and cooled pasta and toasted walnuts. Goats cheese or Persian feta is optional. Today we left it off, but it does make a good addition to the salad.

Are you after other Pasta dishes? Try Pasta Salad with Artichoke Hearts, Fettuccine with Cheese and Pepper, Hand Made Pesto, and Light Pasta Lunch Salads.

What about other Capsicum dishes? Try Roasted Pepper Salad with Mozzarella and White Beans, Tomato and Red Pepper Salad with Crispy Flatbread, Lime and Chilli, and Roasted Peppers and Eggplant Salad.

Browse all of our Pasta dishes, and all of our Capsicum dishes. Our Italian dishes are here. Or explore all of our Late Autumn recipes.

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Pimento Peppers Stuffed with Tomatoes and Feta

On a recent trip to our Central Adelaide Market, these most gorgeous pimentos were available from the organic vegetable store.  They are the sweet capsicum variety that is used to stuff olives. You’ve seen pimento stuffed olives of course. Did you know that in the 1800s, chopped pimento was shot by hydraulic pump into end of each olive, inserting the pimento while, at the same time, ejecting the pit out of the other end. Now pimentos are pureed then formed into strips with a natural gum, for the easy mechanisation of olive stuffing.

Pimentos can be stuffed too, and we do them  in the traditional way – filling them with tomatoes and garlic and topping with feta. The skin of the pimento is quite thick, so we slow bake them to allow the tomatoes to soften down and the pimento to also become tender. We love stuffed vegetables and are glad that they are making inroads again into the fashionable food world.

We have a similar recipe for stuffing capsicums, one that drizzles the cooked capsicums with a delicious herb oil. Other similar recipes include Capsicums Stuffed with Kidney Beans and Feta, and Banana Chillies Stuffed with Tomatoes and Spices. Also try Lauki Melon with Tomato and Feta.

Meanwhile have a look at the collection of Feta recipes we put together for you.

Browse all of our Stuffed recipes, and our Capsicum dishes.  We have a couple of Spanish dishes to check out. Or explore our Early Winter recipes.

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Radiant Autumn Salad of Peppers

Autumn this year is late to show its most glorious colours. The weather hasn’t been cold enough to done its job – we are still waiting for the colours to be breath-taking.

BUT this salad is radiant with beautiful colours – capsicums of red, orange and yellow. It is a beautiful reflection of the colours we are waiting for outside.

It’s another of our really simple but gloriously flavoursome dishes. Italian in nature, it celebrates the capsicums.

Similar recipes include Roasted Red Pepper Salad with Mozzarella and White Beans, Red Pepper and Tomato Salad with Crispy Flatbread, and Roasted Red Peppers Salad.

You can browse our Capsicum Salads, all of our Salads, and all of our Italian recipes. Or enjoy our Late Autumn collection of dishes.

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Burnt Aubergine with Tomatoes, Sweet Peppers and Red Onion

Eggplants are wondrous vegetables, and it is great to watch them grow in the garden. They have a special purple flower, then the globe forms, and it swells and grows until it is ready to be picked. You can never really fail with eggplant dishes, they are very special no matter whether you grill, roast, saute, simmer, steam or roast them.

Today we are taking burnt (charred) eggplants and combining them with yellow or green capsicums and red onion, to form a dish perfect for eating with flatbread as part of a mezze spread. It is an Ottolenghi dish from his first book, Ottolenghi.

In fact, it is Ottolenghi day on the blog – one of two days per month where we publish all the latest posts of recipes we have tried in our project of cooking from Ottolenghi books – currently we are cooking from Plenty More, but not ignoring his other books completely. Note that I often massage the recipes to suit what is available from our garden and pantry. For the original recipes, check his books and his Guardian column.

Similar dishes include Marinated Eggplant with Tahini and Oregano, Tomato Salad with Lemon or Lime, Caponata Siciliana, Grilled Eggplant Salad with White Beans, Grilled Sweet Peppers and Eggplant Salad, and Smoky Eggplants and Tomatoes.

Browse all Eggplant Salads and all Mezze dishes. Our Ottolenghi dishes from Ottolenghi are here. Or explore our Mid Autumn dishes.

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