Tuesday, 17 November 2009

Roasted Pepper, Artichoke & Tomato Salad with Sundried Tomato Dressing

This salad should be made somewhat in advance; in particular the roasting of the peppers should be done in good time. However, it's extremely simple to make and does not actually involve much work. There will almost certainly be more dressing than you need, but you can easily use the extra on some other salad. It should keep in the fridge for a week or so.

This is the entire amount of salad I made for The Party, but it was one of the few things to be completely eaten. It's a fair bit of salad but it's hard for me to discern how many servings it would make under more normal circumstances. The photo is of half the recipe. Certainly, it would be very easy to cut the amount made in half. Also, I would think it could be stretched, or diluted (it has a strong, almost relish-like quality as-is) with cooked beans or cooked grains such as barley or rice. Make this one all year with greenhouse peppers and tomatoes. Artichokes, alas, are from "away".

8 to 16 servings
30 minutes prep time, plus 1 hour to roast and cool the peppers

Roasted Pepper, Artichoke and Tomato Salad
Make the Dressing:
8 large dried tomatoes (1/2 cup, about)
1/2 cup boiling water
1 or 2 cloves of garlic
1 medium shallot
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon smoked sweet paprika
1 teaspoon rubbed oregano
1 teaspoon rubbed basil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
2 or 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil

Soak the tomatoes in the boiling water until very soft, and the water has cooled. Meanwhile, peel the garlic and shallot. It's probably helpful to halve the shallot. Put them, with all the other ingredients, into a food processor or blender, and process (or blend) until very smooth. Scrape it all out and store it until needed. If you find it too thick you could thin it with a little water.

Make the Salad:
4 large bell peppers in mixed colours
2 398-ml (14 oz) tins of artichoke quarters or hearts
5 or 6 ripe tomatoes

Preheat the oven to 450°F. Put the peppers in a cast iron skillet or other heavy casserole dish, and roast them for 10 minutes. Turn them a third of the way around, and roast them for another 10 minutes. Turn them so the final third surface of the peppers is now down, and roast for a final 10 minutes. Kitchen fan ON during this process!

Allow the peppers to cool, then cut out the cores. Cut the peppers in halves and discard the seeds. Rinse the halves, and drain them to remove any last lingering seeds. Lay them out on a cutting board, skin up, and peep off the roasted skins. Chop the remaining flesh and put it in your salad bowl.

Rinse and drain the artichokes and chop them in about the same size pieces as the peppers. Likewise, wash and chop the tomatoes.

Toss with as much of the salad dressing as seems good to you. The salad can be made somewhat in advance and kept refrigerated, although as ever I would leave out the tomatoes until the last minute. "Never, never, put tom-a-toes in the re-friger-a-tor!" That's how that old jingle went, isn't it? If not, that's how it should have gone, because they too originally come from the tropical e-qua-tor. Never chill them; they go mushy and lose anything resembling flavour.

Last year at this time I was not doing much cooking. Last year at this time I froze some pumpkin.

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