This recipe is quite simply stunning: hard to imagine how something so easily prepared can taste so good. Its history is colourful, too. It was first discovered by Elizabeth David and published in her splendid book Italian Food. Then the Italian chef Franco Taruschio at the Walnut Tree Inn, near Abergavenny, cooked it there. Simon Hopkinson, who ate it at the Walnut Tree, put it on his menu at his great London restaurant Bibendum, where I ate it – which is how it comes to be here now for you to make and enjoy.
Serves 4-8 as a starter
This recipe is taken from Delia Smith’s Summer Collection.
4 large red peppers (green are not suitable)
6 medium tomatoes
8 tinned anchovy fillets, drained
2 cloves garlic
8 dessertspoons Italian extra virgin olive oil
freshly milled black pepper
small bunch fresh basil leaves
Pre-heat the oven to gas mark 4, 350°F (180°C).
For this it is essential to use a good, solid, shallow roasting tray, 16 x 12 inches (40 x 30 cm). If the sides are too deep, the roasted vegetables won't get those lovely, nutty, toasted edges.
Begin by cutting the peppers in half and removing the seeds but leaving the stalks intact (they're not edible but they do look attractive and they help the pepper halves to keep their shape).
Lay the pepper halves in the lightly oiled roasting tray. Now put the tomatoes in a bowl and pour boiling water over them. Leave them for 1 minute, then drain them and slip the skins off, using a cloth to protect your hands. Then cut the tomatoes into quarters and place three quarters in each pepper half.
After that, snip one anchovy fillet per pepper half into rough pieces and add to the tomatoes. Peel the garlic cloves, slice them thinly and divide the slices equally among the tomatoes and anchovies.
Now spoon 1 dessertspoon of olive oil into each pepper, season with freshly milled pepper (but no salt because of the anchovies) and place the tray on a high shelf in the oven for the peppers to roast for 50 minutes to 1 hour.
Then transfer the cooked peppers to a serving dish, with all the precious juices poured over, and garnish with a sprig of basil leaves.
These do need good bread to go with them as the juices are sublime – focaccia would be perfect.