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My take on the pepper-and-anchovy antipasto that is so deservedly popular with Italian cooks is a little different from the usual, and very easy to throw together. Serve it as an antipasto, or as a contorno to go with grilled meat or fish, or chop the finished peppers with all the other ingredients and use it to top a dish of pasta. I use big late-summer peppers, mostly red but throwing in a few yellow ones for a colorful touch. I figure on half a pepper per serving — so two peppers will serve four, but use your judgment: Smaller peppers from the farmers’ market might come out to two per serving.
- 2 big sweet red peppers (or 1 red and 1 yellow) or 4 medium peppers
- Olive oil
- 2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
- 5 or 6 cherry or grape tomatoes, cut in half
- 4 anchovy fillets, each one cut into 3 or 4 bits
- 2 tablespoons salted capers, rinsed
- About 1/4 cup fresh goat cheese (chevre)
- 6 pitted black olives, coarsely chopped (optional)
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Chopped fresh basil leaves for garnish
- Preheat the oven to 375°F.
- Cut the peppers in half the long way and remove the seeds and inner white membranes, but leave some of the stem to keep each half intact.
- Lightly oil a baking dish in which all the halves will fit comfortably in one layer and set the peppers in the dish, skin-side down.
- Now add to the inside of each half: a few thin slices of garlic; 2 or 3 cherry or grape tomato halves, cut-side down; 3 or 4 bits of anchovy fillet; and a half dozen or so capers.
- Add a dab of the goat cheese and some of the chopped olives, if using, but don’t get too carried away. Remember, simpler is always better in the kitchen.
- Now top each pepper half with 1 or 2 teaspoons olive oil and several grinds of black pepper. No salt, because the anchovies and capers will take care of that.
- Slide the dish into the oven and let the peppers roast for 40 to 50 minutes, until they are tender all the way through and the edges are brown.
- Remove and serve immediately, or set aside and serve later at room temperature. They make a great addition to a meze or buffet table, although they’re hard to eat standing up.
- For an extra touch, sprinkle some chopped fresh basil over each half just before serving.
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