Peppers with Feta and Almonds
This is really a vegetarian take on that classic combination of charred, peeled peppers and anchovies. And if it makes little sense in talking about a vegetarian version when this is paired with the lamb salad, then let me reassure you that there is no need to do it all. This pepper and feta combo, with an arugula (or other green) salad, some grilled eggplant dressed, as with the lamb, with pomegranate and mint (or if you’re not feeling up to that, just a bowl of good store-bought hummus) and a pile of warmed pita breads, would make the perfect Saturday lunch, vegetarians or no.
Total Timeunder 30 minutes
OccasionCasual Dinner Party, Cocktail Party
Five Ingredients or LessYes
Taste and Texturecheesy, savory, tangy
- 8 red or yellow peppers or a mixture of both
- 4 ounces feta cheese (or 8 ounces if not serving the lamb)
- couple of squeezes lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 1/3 cup blanched or sliced almonds
- 2 tablespoons freshly chopped flat-leaf parsley
Peeling peppers is a time-consuming and fiddly job, but it isn’t difficult—and this is a distinction that’s important to remember. Like most tasks of this order, culinary or otherwise, the space it takes up in your head is greater than the actual demands of the activity, but if the idea of charring and then peeling eight peppers really appalls, then don’t do it. The world is not going to fall apart if you buy a jar of ready-peeled and oil-softened peppers, nor do you lose the right to occupy your own kitchen if you ignore my suggestion altogether. Make a tomato salad; buy some tabbouleh from the deli.
But meanwhile at stately Wayne mansion, preheat the broiler as hot as you can get it, and then sit the peppers on a rack below. When the skin turns black and blistery, turn them; you want to char them on every side. You can do this also, if you’ve got a gas stove, just by holding them with a long fork over the burner, but it can get tiresome to say the least.
When the peppers are black and charred, remove them (trying not to burn yourself) to a large bowl and cover immediately with plastic wrap. Leave for 10–20 minutes.
Then uncover and, one by one, peel and seed the peppers. Don’t get worried if the odd bit of skin (or indeed seed) remains. Cut or tear into wide chunks/strips (I don’t like this too dinky) and arrange on a large plate. Crumble over the feta, then squeeze over lemon juice and drizzle with oil. Scatter over the almonds and sprinkle on the parsley—and that, frankly, is it.
Leftovers can be stuffed into pita breads, as with the lamb, but the sweet, salty mix is also lovely as a sauce for pasta (better without the almonds, though I’d bet they’d all be picked off anyway by the time you got to leftover stage). Cook some penne, reserve a coffee cupful of the cooking water on draining, then toss the pasta back into the hot pan with half the reserved water and a small bowlful of peppers and feta. Toss around so that everything begins to cohere (but not actually cook) and turn into a bowl. Eat.
2002 Nigella Lawson