It’s breathtaking, almost painfully beautiful in the Willamette Valley in Oregon right now. My mother and I, every fall on day’s like today, talk about this time of year in that–so-beautiful-it-hurts kind of way. The air is different. 75 degrees in late September does not feel like 75 degrees in early August. Colors are more intense and the light has shifted enough to feel almost wistful in its beauty.
Work is busy, school and sports schedules are all over the map and produce is abundant. Those intense colors reflect my general feeling this time of year. . .. immensely grateful for all I have and slightly on overdrive to preserve all that accumulated sunshine for the cooler months and take advantage of the waning summer produce on our plates every day.
I roast batches of tomatoes with salt and olive oil; sauce types, slicers, cherry types, all in the same pan because it works just fine. I may use some to dress a pasta dish or spread on sandwiches or stir into a soup or I may freeze the whole batch, in pint size containers, for less intense times.
I’ve also been making one of my favorite dishes from my time in Southern Italy (Calabria) 25 years ago. It’s nothing more than potatoes and sweet red peppers pan-friend.
The peppers are a sweet and smoky and the potatoes both creamy and crispy and plenty of sea salt keeps you eating this simple concoction beyond your better judgement.
Calabrian-style Fried Peppers and Potatoes
Sweet, salty and a bit charred . . .This was one of my very favorite things to eat when I lived in Calabria (the toe of the Italian boot) 25 years ago. It doesn’t really get any simpler but you need to be brave with the heat and have good ventilation. And don’t skimp on the oil either.
3-4 sweet red peppers, washed, cored and seeded and cut into chunks about 1 ½ – 2 1/3 inches
3-4 medium firm fleshed yellow potatoes, well scrubbed (no need to peel) and cut into bite-sized chunks.
3 tablespoons olive oil (or a bit more if things dry out)
Heat the oil in the largest, heaviest skillet you have. When it’s hot but not smoking add the peppers and potatoes and toss well to coat with oil. Cook on high heat, stirring frequently until the both potatoes and peppers are tender and almost blackened around the edges. Season liberally with sea salt. Serve hot.