Our chef correspondent Nate Courtland hasn't been able to stop thinking about a recent Squid Ink report about the seizure of more than 5,027 lbs of marijuana that was discovered beneath a load of green bell peppers. First of all, there's a matter of hometown pride: Courtland was born and raised in Nogales, Arizona, just a couple of miles from where the bust went down. And whether you're on the side of the arresting officers or the enterprising smugglers, the bell pepper element still proved eccentric enough to make national news. Then Courtland's thoughts naturally drifted to all that fresh produce that the Feds confiscated which, of course, then led naturally to pepperonatta, which he loves because its so easy to make and it seems to go with everything. "Serve on a grilled piece of crusty bread and top with goat cheese, or with chicken, steaks or all by itself," he wrote to us. "It's up to you!" (Apologies to the green bell pepper.)
6 large red, yellow or orange bell peppers
1 small red onion (sliced in half then very thin)
1/4 c capers
4Tb or so Extra Virgin Olive oil (may need more)
2Tb red wine vinegar
1/2 c basil leaves (chopped with sharp knife or torn)
small handful mint leaves (chopped)
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1tsp red chili flake
Salt and Pepper to taste
First step is to roast the peppers. Doing this outside over hickory or mesquite is really the best way to go. But if you don't have the time or energy, simply put the peppers on an open flame and begin to blister. Lightly rubbing oil on them will help get this going faster. It's important to completely blister and blacken the peppers otherwise it will be difficult to peel later. Put peppers into bowl or container and seal completely with plastic wrap. The steam will help loosen the skin from the flesh and make peeling quick and painless.
After the peppers have cooled so you can handle them start peeling and getting rid of seeds. Save all the juice that has collected in the pepper and never rinse the peppers. A little charred flavor is delicious. Now simply slice peppers into strips and combine with other ingredients. Season and taste many times because this may change as it cools off.