One of the first dishes I ever learned to make is still one of my favorites. Giuliano Bugialli’s insalata di peperoni e capperi, pepper salad with capers. The recipe comes from Bugialli’s Foods of Italy, which was published in 1984, yet remains contemporary, filled with classic regional recipes and gorgeous photographs by John Dominis. It’s a book I’ve enjoyed sitting with, reading and looking, and standing over, checking instructions. My copy opens to the pepper salad dish, and as I flip through the pages, I see how much I learned from Foods of Italy, how many techniques I use years later.
The colorful salad of silky, sweet bell peppers, tangy capers and fresh mint and basil, can be an hors d’oeuvre, a side-dish, an addition to a sandwich. It goes well with anything.
The first step is grilling the peppers. My most recent version of this dish expanded beyond bell peppers, and included some spicy long peppers from Sport Hill Farm.
If you’re roasting the peppers inside, under the broiler, here’s an excellent technique I learned from Bugialli’s recipe: place a pan of water on a rack below the peppers.
The steam protects the flesh of the peppers. Without over-charring, the skin starts to separate from the flesh. This picture shows poblanos. I use Giuliano Bugialli’s roasting technique when I make chiles rellenos. But that is another, more complicated story.
Roasted pepper and caper salad is one of my favorite dishes, and yet I can’t find a picture I’ve taken of it. Probably because it’s such an essential part of the fall repertoire.