Adapted from A New Way to Cook by Sally Schneider, (Artisan 2001).
The food I remember long after my return home from traveling is invariably the simple, elemental dishes made with a few ingredients. These roasted peppers are one such dish. I had them in a restaurant in the ancient village of Cherasco, near Alba in the Piedmont region of Italy. The chef's method of roasting peppers with nothing more that a little anchovy, garlic, and olive oil revived my love of the bell pepper, which has suffered from overexposure in recent years. The anchovy brings out the flavors of the pepper without dominating it. This is one of the best and simplest hors d'oeuvres I know. It is also lovely as a side dish.
If you have any leftover peppers, coarsely chop them and toss them with pasta, olive oil, and Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese for a delicious supper.
Preheat the oven to 450°F.
Halve each pepper lengthwise, then cut each half lengthwise in half, leaving the stem intact. Remove the seeds and, with a sharp paring knife, cut out the white membranes. Using a lightly dampened brush, brush each pepper section with some of the olive oil, and arrange cut side up on a baking sheet.
Slice the anchovies crosswise in half. Place 1 anchovy half and 2 slices of garlic in the cavity of each pepper quarter. Brush these with the remaining oil. Sprinkle lightly with salt and generously with pepper. Roast for about 30 minutes, until the peppers are collapsed, tender, and slightly browned on the edges. Serve hot or at room temperature. Sprinkle the herbs over the peppers just before serving, if desired.
You can roast the peppers up to 4 hours ahead. When they are cool, cover with plastic and leave at room temperature.
Simple Herb- or Spice-Roasted Peppers
For an even quicker play on this dish, omit the anchovy, garlic, and basil and sprinkle the roasted peppers with chopped fresh herbs, such as thyme or savory, or spices, such as crushed cumin or fennel seeds.
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