This is one of the most popular appetizers I serve at home. The recipe started out as one from Nigella Lawson and each time I made it I added ingredients and this is the culmination. It is absolutely divine and is a real taste – tickler!
Serves 4 but is easily augmented.
4 good sized red peppers
a good handful fresh basil leaves
4 – 5 scallions or 1 bunch if you like a lot of scallions, sliced across in 1/4″ pieces
1/2 cup pitted Kalamata olives, halved lengthways
One 7oz block Greek feta cheese
1/3 cup slivered almonds (the ones with the skins showing at the edges)
Good balsamic vinegar
Good extra virgin olive oil
salt and freshly ground black pepper
There are two short stages at the beginning which are easy, but important.
1/ About 4 – 5 hours before you want to serve this dish, (or the day before) put your four red peppers over each gas burner turned on full and leave on there until they get nice and black.
Turn them, using kitchen tongs and let the entire skin get good and charred, then either put them in a large glass bowl and immediately cover with cling film and set aside, or get three paper supermarket bags inside each other and put them in there, fold over the top and clip the top shut so it’s well sealed. Leave the peppers for a couple of hours to steam, then the skins will come off really easily, revealing sweet red flesh underneath.
With a tap running, (for your hands, NOT the peppers) remove the charred skin, which should just fall off. Remove the stem and the seeds inside and put the peppers into a colander to drain.
Slice the peppers into long strips, about 1/3 to 1/2″ wide and put them into a shallow serving dish.
2/ Preheat the oven to 400F
Put the almonds on a shallow baking tray and toast until starting to brown, this could take about 10 minutes or more, but keep watching them in case they burn. Set aside until cool. (You can always do as many almonds as you like, and freeze what you don’t need, ready for the next time you make the dish)
Okay, so now the assembly part, and this is a doddle!
To the pepper strips in the shallow serving dish, add the chopped scallions, the olives and the finely sliced basil leaves. Season liberally with salt and pepper and sprinkle a good amount of balsamic vinegar over it. Add about 3 tbsp olive oil and toss the mixture until well coated. taste for seasoning, adding more balsamic or salt if needed.
Crumble up the feta cheese and sprinkle over the dish, then sprinkle a little more balsamic over the feta in decorative streams. Sprinkle a good amount of toasted almonds over the feta.
And you have a really lovely , complex flavored appetizer that people can eat with a small fork.
It is better to bring it to room temperature before serving if you are making the dish in advance, which , by the way, can be done up to 2 days before and will last a good 3 days in the fridge if there are any leftovers.