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Syke Gyngell // Pepper Piedmontese 

This colourful dish screams summer and can be prepared ahead so it’s ideal for entertaining in the garden with friends or family. A classic Mediterranean recipe, it can be served as a starter, as a light lunch or side dish or on a bed of lentils to make a more substantial meal. 

It can easily be adapted for vegetarians by leaving out the anchovies and for vegans without the cheese. 

Serves 4
8 ripe tomatoes
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
4 red peppers
12 basil leaves
4 garlic cloves, peeled and finely sliced
6 good quality tinned anchovies in oil, drained and finely chopped
2 tbsp. of extra virgin olive oil
Lentils (optional)
Mozzerella or goat’s cheese (optional)

Place a large pot of salted water onto boil. Using a small paring knife, remove the core from each tomato and mark a small cross on the base. Drop the tomatoes into the boiling water. The skin will quickly curl back at which point remove them from the water and set aside until they are cool enough to handle.

Pre-heat the oven to 180°. Halve the peppers lengthwise and remove the core, seeds and white pith. Lay the pepper halves skin side down in a shallow baking tray that will hold them comfortably.

When the tomatoes are cool enough to peel, cut in half and remove the skin and seeds. Roughly chop the flesh. Tear the basil leaves into pieces.

Fill the pepper halves with the pieces of tomato, garlic slices, basil and anchovies. They should be generously filled. Drizzle with olive oil. Season lightly with salt and pepper and bake on the middle shelf of your pre heated oven for 35 mins or until the peppers are soft and slightly blackened around the edges but still holding their shape.

Remove from the oven and allow to cool to room temperature. 

To make the basil oil
1 x large bunch of basil
Sea salt
100 mils of extra virgin olive oil

Remove the basil leaves from their stalks and place in a food processor, add a good pinch of salt and drizzle the olive oil in through the funnel at the top. It should be sludgy, very green and aromatic.

To serve
Simply arrange the peppers on a big serving plate and spoon over the basil oil. For a heartier dish, serve the peppers on a bed of lentils. 

Wine Pairing
Choose a full-bodied red to complement the sweetness of the peppers and the aromas of the basil.  Blended from Shiraz with a touch of Tempranillo, the Andrew Peace Signature Shiraz 2020 is smooth, with typical ripe black fruit flavours with a hint of cherry. And it’s £5.50 from in selected Co-op stores

These peppers are great as part of a larger meal, especially a barbecue but can also be served on their own. I often add a little mozzarella or goat’s cheese.
They are best on the day of serving and should always be served at room temperature as their flavour is much better.
Do not be tempted to omit the anchovies even if you think you don’t like them – they add a depth of flavour that cannot be replaced – it won’t taste fishy just perfectly seasoned!