I mentioned in an earlier post that Glenn and I “fell in love” with our crop of Jimmy Nardello Sweet [Red] Italian Peppers. Somehow, we had never heard of this variety prior to this year. We may have been late to the party…but better late than never! Overall, I’m not a big fan of peppers. This particular variety is definitely an exception for me. So sweet, so delicious, so different. We had been enjoying them throughout the gardening season in salads, sauteed & stuffed. You name it, we tried it. And then, BAM! At the end of the season, they all ripened at once. We only had 3 plants, but all of a sudden we had 50+ peppers looking for a purpose. After some internet sleuthing, the decision to preserve them through roasting became our solution. A quick charring on the grill, steaming in a bag, peeling, de-seeding, dredging in vinegar and stuffing in jars created a wonderful winter preservation of our bounty.
Don’t be alarmed by the term “pickled” for these peppers. They do not have the strong taste like a dill-pickled cucumber. It is very mild. The use of red wine vinegar, definitely gives the peppers an “Italian leaning” taste. Perfect to incorporate in favorite “Italian leaning” recipes! I’m even thinking I may make some homemade Italian sausage then chop and toss some of these in the meat mixture. Sounds promising to me. I added a bit to my “Sunday gravy” a couple of weeks ago, and yum. They added a new dimension to my all day simmering sauce. Recently we had wonderful dinner of rustic pizzas we prepared on the grill [our “test” for a future pizza party]. Glenn’s creation included these peppers, prosciutto and heirloom tomatoes. His idea of heaven…memories of Italy at its finest 🙂 I’m finding the possibilities are endless with these peppers. They are even delicious served “as is” for antipasti. Picture the platter: Strips of red pepper, kalamata olives, cured Italian meats, crusty bread…fill in the rest with your favorites and enjoy!
Note: This recipe is for one half-pint jar. Adjust accordingly to number of peppers.
Ingredients: 10 Jimmy Nardello sweet red peppers [or peppers of choice]
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 cup red wine vinegar [more as needed]
1/2 pint canning jar
A chopstick or butter knife
First wash, dry and then lightly oil your sweet peppers.
Roast your peppers. This can be over a smoky wood fire, a gas grill, or an open burner on a stove. No matter what your roasting method, you will need to turn your peppers from time to time as the skins char and blacken.
When the peppers are mostly blackened, remove them to a paper grocery bag and roll up the bag to seal in the steam. You want to steam the peppers in their own juices. Let the bag sit for a minimum of 45 minutes.
After the peppers have cooled and steamed, take them out of the bag one at a time and remove the skins, stems and seeds. Water running in the sink is helpful so you can wash your hands off periodically. Do NOT run the peppers under the water, as this washes away the flavor. Once each pepper is cleaned [get as many seeds out as you can, some will inevitably remain] drop it in a bowl. Skin and remove seeds from all peppers before proceeding.
Once all the peppers are cleaned and in the bowl, pour some vinegar in a shallow bowl or pan.
Dredge each pepper through the vinegar a few times to get it good and coated. Place it in another clean bowl. Do this for all the peppers.
Sprinkle the bowl with all the vinegar dredged peppers with kosher salt. Gently toss the peppers with the salt. Sprinkle a little more salt and repeat. Sprinkle a little salt into the bowl with the pepper juice — the original bowl.
Pour a little vinegar into the bottom of the jar, just enough to cover the bottom. Pack in the peppers, leaving about 1/2 space at the top. Use a butter knife or chopstick to run down the sides of the jars, releasing air bubbles and allowing the peppers to settle. You will notice the level of liquid drop. Fill it with the salted pepper juice — but still leave room at the top of the jar.
Once the air is out to the best of your ability and the vinegar-pepper juice it right at the top of the level of the peppers, pour in olive oil on top of everything to a depth of 1/4 inch. Screw the lids on the jars and you’re done. No sealing needed. These peppers will last a year in the refrigerator, although they will soften over time.