I need to introduce you to one of my top favorite vegetable dishes, one that I’d be content to eat as the main meal — with a side of fresh, crusty bread, of course. Roasted peppers sautéed with garlic in olive oil are so divine, I’m pretty sure angels serve them on platters just inside the gates of heaven. The aroma alone is enough to make me swoon.
This is another family recipe that happens to be vegan, meaning there’s no animal products involved. It’s also gluten free, minus the bread.The peppers are blackened first, then enclosed in a paper bag for 15 minutes so that the skins can be peeled off. (Yes, that part is a pain, but so worth it.) I use the broiler to roast the peppers, although they’re traditionally charred over an open flame on the stove. (I’m pretty sure I would burn down my house if I tried that.) Then, the peeled peppers are sautéed briefly with garlic in olive oil. So, so good!
If I close my eyes, I can still see Nonna wearing her blouse, slacks and gold, open-toed, Daniel Green slippers (with heels), charring the peppers over open flames on the basement stove. Her sleeves would be rolled up and her fingertips blackened, yet she’d be smiling with contentment, unfazed by the messy process. I just loved keeping her company.
Nonna always made enough for leftovers, so sometimes, I’d have a roasted pepper sandwich for lunch at school. Let me tell you, nothing screams “I’m the child of an immigrant” louder than greasy olive oil stains on your brown bag.
As the other kids were eating their bologna on Wonder bread, I could feel my face burning with embarrassment as I’d quickly remove my pepper-stuffed, 5-inch slab of Italian bread. I’d open my napkin as fast as I could and spread it over the telltale bag, keeping an eye out to see if anyone noticed. (This is why I’ve watched My Big Fat Greek Wedding approximately 47 times.)
But one bite later, I couldn’t care less if I had olive oil dripping down my chin. Because this…this….was far, far better than any bologna sandwich.
(Adapted from my Nonna’s method, via my Mom)