Piedmontese Peppers

This is a Desert Island dish for my family. It dates back to Elizabeth David’s Italian Food, first published in 1954 and still in print, but the dish was popularised by Delia in her TV series and book Summer Collection. It became known as Delia’s peppers but it was Franco Taruschio who put the dish on his opening menu at The Walnut Tree in Abergavenny in 1963 we should really thank. That’s where Simon Hopkinson first tasted it and included the simple but stunning dish on Bibendum’s opening menu in 1987 where it was enjoyed repeatedly by Delia, amongst others, and Elizabeth David. Halved peppers are lined with slivers of garlic, topped with peeled tomatoes and a splash of olive oil. The little boats are roasted and served with a kiss of anchovy. It’s a sublime combination and will fill your kitchen with delectable aromas as it cooks then cools. Serve as a starter, with simply cooked chicken or fish or as part of a mezze-style spread. Good for al fresco meals. I often make a tray at a time; just scale up the ingredients in proportion. I usually make it with regular peppers but my photo show Romano pointed peppers; they look stunning but cook slightly faster, so keep an eye on the timing.

Serves 2-4

Prep: 25 min

Cook: 40 min

4 red peppers

3-4 garlic cloves

4 tomatoes

olive oil

4 anchovy fillets in olive oil

     Heat the oven to 220C/gas mark 7. Boil the kettle. Use a small sharp knife to halve the peppers through the stalk. Scrape and cut out seeds and dense white flesh that holds them and white filament. Rinse. Season with salt and pepper and lay, cut side up, in a small, shallow roasting tin. Peel and slice the garlic in super-thin rounds. Use to line the peppers. Immerse the tomatoes in boiling water for 30 seconds, splash with cold water and rub away the skins. Halve through the core. Snuggle, rounded side up, in the peppers. Season with salt and pepper, add a splash of olive oil and roast for 20 minutes. Reduce the heat to 180C/gas mark 5 and cook for a further 20 minutes. Halve the anchovies lengthways and arrange in a cross over the top. Leave to cool in the tin. Transfer to a platter or plates, adding any residual juices.