No family feast gets under way in the Colloca household without my mum’s vibrant roast capsicum salad. Dad and my uncle Claudio would be completely up in arms if it wasn’t on the antipasto platter – not that they would ever volunteer to make it themselves! Mum is too wise to provoke any tantrums, and she happily roasts, peels and marinates while the two handsome gentlemen discuss which vintage of Montepulciano d’Abruzzo they should crack open. And so the family festivities begin ...
- 3 red or yellow capsicums (peppers)
- 4–5 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1 clove garlic, peeled and cut in half
- 1 small handful of flat-leaf parsley leaves, roughly chopped, plus extra leaves to garnish
- 2–3 mint leaves, shredded, plus extra leaves to garnish
- 1–2 tsp salt flakes
- crusty bread and pecorino chunks (optional), to serve
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
Sitting time 3–4 hours
Turn on the grill function in your oven. Line a baking tray with foil.
Place the capsicums on the tray and grill on all sides until they are blackened. Don’t panic – they are not burnt! Using tongs, gently lift out the capsicums and place them in a plastic bag. As odd as this sounds, the steam fuming out of the capsicums trapped in the bag, will lift the black skin, making it easy to pinch it off once the capsicums have cooled down (about an hour). You are now left with soft, juicy capsicum flesh.
Don’t be tempted to rinse the capsicums under water to remove any black specks still attached to the flesh as you will wash away much of the wonderful charred flavour.
Slash the capsicums in half lengthways and scrape off the seeds. Cut the flesh into strips and place in a mixing bowl. Add the olive oil, garlic, parsley, mint and salt to taste, gently toss to coat, then leave to sit at room temperature for 3–4 hours before serving.
You can also make this dish a day ahead and let it marinate in the fridge overnight, allowing all those beautiful flavours to mingle.
To serve, arrange the capsicum in a serving dish, discarding the garlic, and scatter over a few mint and parsley leaves. Enjoy with freshly baked bread and chunks of pecorino, if liked.
Recipe and image from Silvia's Cucina, Silvia Colloca (Penguin, $39.99 pbk)