Day 19: Goat Cheese Gratin with Roasted Peppers, Tomatoes and Chilies with a Big Salad and some Cracked Pepper & Olive Rye
I’m almost ashamed at how close Mike came to convincing me we should order Inglewood Pizza tonight – he knew I was an easy target, my defenses having been knocked down by the deep snow and PJs I had been in most of the afternoon since coming inside, making me feel all snug and far from Monday. (Not quite far enough.)
I stopped him as he picked up the phone, in fact. I’m so glad I did – I had another recipe to test using my mishmash of peppers. Right now I can smell the tumble of oil-slicked peppers, tomatoes, chilies and garlic roasting in the oven. When they come out, I’ll blitz it in the food processor until it’s chunky with a few black olives, spread it over some crumbled goat cheese I put in a smallish baking dish, and broil it until it’s bubbly around the edges. It should be perfect scooped out with chunks of the pepper-olive rye we picked up this afternoon, still so warm it made the plastic bag soften and almost shrinkwrap the loaf when we stepped out into the cold.
Final report: we have a winner! This is the sort of thing that excites me so much, I just wanted to pick up the phone and tell someone about it. The photo truly doesn’t do it justice – it was dark and the battery was flashing, and I wasn’t in a position to abandon sizzling cheese in order to find the battery charger. Because roasting mellows the chile peppers, we put a spoonful into W’s whole wheat spaghetti, and he wolfed it down.
I suspect if you don’t have any fresh chilies or are a fan of chipotle, this would be equally good with the red chilies omitted and one or two chipotles en adobo (the smoky tomato sauce they are generally packed in when canned) added to the peppers along with the olives. A few leaves of fresh basil or a twig of rosemary would probably be great thrown in too.
Goat Cheese Gratin with Roasted Peppers, Tomatoes and Chilies
1 red bell pepper
1 orange or yellow bell pepper
olive or canola oil
1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes, or 4 Roma tomatoes, halved
2-4 red chile peppers, seeded and chopped
3-4 cloves garlic, peeled
1/2 cup black olives, pitted
2 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
salt, to taste
10 oz. soft goat cheese
Preheat oven to 450°F. Seed the peppers and cut them in half. Set them cut side down on a rimmed baking sheet that has been drizzled well with olive or canola oil. In a medium bowl, toss the tomatoes, chile peppers and garlic with another drizzle of oil, toss to coat and spread them out on the pan among the peppers. Roast for 30-45 minutes, until the skin on the peppers blisters and blackens.
Remove the vegetables from the oven and transfer the roasted bell peppers to a bowl; cover and let stand until cool enough to handle. Scrape the roasted tomatoes, chilies and garlic into the bowl of a food processor, along with any juices and the blacked bits on the pan. When the peppers are cool, peel off their skins and add them to the food processor, along with any juices that have accumulated at the bottom of the bowl. Add the olives, some basil or rosemary if you like, and the vinegar, and pulse until the mixture is well blended but still chunky. Taste and add salt, if it needs it – the olives are often salty enough
Crumble the goat cheese into a shallow baking dish, and spread the pepper mixture over top. Broil for 10 minutes, or until heated through and bubbly around the edges. Serve with fresh bread, pitas or crackers.
Serves 8 (depending on appetites).