Fruits in Winter

Gathering with friends warms my soul.  The laughter, conversation and enjoying flavors of the occasion…

Over a long weekend visit with friends, I had a quiet moment to flip through a new cookbook my sister had recently surprised me with – Local Flavors – Cooking and Eating from America’s Farmers’ Markets by Deborah Madison.

Now I must admit I do not consider myself one who enjoys reading cookbooks… I generally have a taste for something, or some ingredients on hand, and will go to the index and look for a recipe.   The Internet has made this task even easier, expanding my knowledge of chefs and ideas for great combinations of flavors.

So I surprised myself that I started actually reading this book beginning to end.

Written in 2002,  Madison  was at the beginning of the trend, before farmers markets began to popped up in decentralized communities, encouraging the slow food movement and sustainable farming and shopping!  Local Flavor The markets profiled coast to coast and their venders conjure up a charming way to meander a morning away. The photos are beautiful. The information sensible…  so although it is winter here… these were flavors I began to crave.

All weekend I had kicked myself for not tucking in my favorite gallette with fennel and onions baked in a blue cheese crust, to share on a wintry weekend, so when I saw the pasta with golden fennel recipe my mouth began to water. By the time I read the summer fruits chapter on tomatoes peppers and eggplants there was no turning back.

So making a list & checking it twice, I announced to my friends that I was heading to the market to find ingredients to make dinner!

I must admit the refrigerator was already filled with fresh ingredients, but for some reason Madison’s Roasted Peppers and Tomatoes Baked with Herbs & Capers pulled at my taste buds.

Bell peppers are full of antioxidants and 3 times more vitamin C than found in an orange.   A dish with versatility that would keep well all weekend, great as an appetizer, colorful side or on a pizza.

Or if you have friends over give them a knife and cutting board to help in the prep…  Enjoy!  Jayme

Roasted Peppers and Tomatoes Baked with Herbs and Capers

Adapted from Local Flavors by Deborah Madison  – my notes in italics – but this recipe is so palate pleasing why not learn from the master….  Thanks Deborah Madison!

Serves 4 to 6.

  • 4   big bell peppers – red, orange, and yellow
  • 1   large beefsteak – type tomato or 1 ¼ pounds of other ripe tomatoes
  • 2   smaller yellow tomatoes*
  • 6   flat-leaf parsley sprigs
  • 1   tablespoon marjoram or 12 large basil leaves
  • 1   plump garlic clove
  • 2   tablespoons capers, rinsed
  • 12 Nicoise olives, pitted *
  •  3  tablespoons olive oil, plus extra for the dish
  •  sea salt and freshly ground pepper

Note:  the second time making this, I was unable to find yellow tomatoes so my suggestion would be Heirloom and colorful – it’s all about flavor.

            I also cannot always find Nicoise olives without a journey to Whole Foods – so substituted olives from my local grocery’s olive bar… a mixture of oil cured Kalamata & brine cured Sicilian.


– Select a large saucepan large enough to hold tomatoes, fill with water and bring to boiling… In the meantime…

1 Roasted Peppers 

Deborah Madison gives several options for roasting or charring peppers.  I chose this slow roast method which locks in the flavor and brings out the sweetness:

–         Cut off the tops of the peppers, then slice them in half lengthwise, remove the seeds and veins, and press down on each half to flatten.   Brush the skins with oil, then set them skin side up on a sheet pan.  Bake at 400 degrees F.  10 to 20 minutes.   Remove and stack the peppers on top of each other to steam for 15 minutes. (Use any of the delicious juice that collects from the steaming peppers in the finished dish or use it in vinaigrette.)

–         Next, slip off the skins with your hand or a paper towel.   Don’t worry about getting every little fleck of skin.

Note:  I then sliced lengthwise in thirds.

While the peppers are in the oven…

 –  Score the ends of the tomatoes, then drop them into boiling water for 10 seconds. When cool to the touch… Remove the skins, halve them crosswise, and gently squeeze out the seeds.  Cut the walls into wide pieces.   Reserve the cores for a soup or sauce…  Are these not mouth-watering & beautiful?

2 Tomatoes

–         Pluck the leaves off the parsley stems.  You should have about ½ cup.  Chop them finely with the marjoram and garlic, then put in a bowl with the capers, olives, and the olive oil.   Season with ¾ teaspoon salt and some pepper.

3 Herb Prep

–         Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.  Lightly oil a small gratin dish.  Add the tomatoes, peppers, and sauce and gently toss with your hands.   Season with pepper.

Note:  pictured in the upper left is a Cherry pitter… I use it more often than I ever dreamed…   great for olives too!

–         Cover and bake for 20 minutes.  Let cool before serving.

4 Roasted Peppers Eat

Enjoy – living the  EntwinedLife

Jayme B

NC Certified Environmental Educator



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