Grilled peppers and baby squid pasta salad

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During summer, there is no neighbourhood in Sicily, from exclusive areas with expensive villas, to charming historical city centres, from busy markets to characterless city outskirts, where you will not encounter, at least once during your trip, the strong, inviting smell of grilled peppers.

A grilled pepper salad, with garlic, extra virgin olive oil and fresh basil leaves is just one of those summer side dishes that you cannot miss. Served with anything, meat, fish, especially grilled tuna or swordfish, or even on its own, just with cheese and other grilled vegetables, it tastes great!

Its smell, its colours and its taste are a true explosion of summer in your mouth.

Ideally, you would grill the peppers on charcoal but if that is not possible try to place them right on the hob as shown in the picture below. In Sicily, it is possible to buy peppers already grilled at the market as shown in these pictures taken in Ortigia's market, in Siracusa.

When cooking them, the skin has to burn almost completely before placing them into a plastic bag. Then wait for about ten minutes. This allows the peppers to release some steam in the bag that will make peeling the skin off easier.

When you take the peppers out of the bag, clean them under running water, remove the skin and the internal seeds. Once that is done, tear or cut the flesh into strips and place in a colander on the sink for 15 minutes to get rid of excess moisture.
Finally, place the strips into a bowl with garlic, salt, extra virgin olive oil and fresh basil leaves and the salad is ready to be served.

Today, I used grilled peppers in a more elaborate recipe. A cold calamarata pasta served with grilled pepper salad, sautè baby squid and "muddica atturrata" (toasted bread crumbs). It was really fresh and tasty, my guests loved it! and as with grilled peppers salad in general, it will taste even better later tonight.

Grilled peppers

Ideally the peppers should not be washed , as the flavour disappears.. only know this as my son is chef. The skin should come off easily if left in a bag, or a bowl covered with clingfilm. I do this method a lot and have no trouble.

to wash or not to wash?

Dear Anne,

you are probably right, but I have seen grandmothers, aunties and friends making their life easier and washing grilled peppers under tap water to get rid of the burned skin. To be honest, I have not come across Sicilian grown peppers whose taste might be compromised by doing this. The taste is so strong and intense.
I suggested placing them in a plastic bag, but of course you can also use a bowl covered with film or a plastic container with a lid. Anything that would let them release their juice and steam.



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