As we head into the end of September and the days shorten and cool, we may be fooled into thinking it's autumn. And it is, sort of. But the summer bounty is still rolling in, as evidenced by the brightly colored bell peppers and basil that leapt from my farm box this week. I was delighted to pull out an old favorite recipe, red pepper relish, and get to work.
I first came across this relish in an old issue of Gourmet. I've never saved the recipe, so I'm not sure if this is it anymore which proves that this is one of those flexible, easy-to-experiment-with dishes. If fresh bell peppers aren't in season or you're in a hurry, you can always use the jarred variety.
I usually serve the relish with toasted baguette slices, either on the side or already spooned on top as a bruschetta. It also makes an excellent filling for an omelet or an accompaniment for a rich, creamy goat's cheese on a cheese tray.
Red Pepper Relish
makes about 2 cups
3 T currants
1 T sherry vinegar
4-6 large red bell peppers, roasted*
2 T olive oil
1 small clove of garlic, finely chopped
several large leaves of fresh basil
salt and freshly ground black pepper
Put the currants in a small bowl, add the vinegar and set aside.
Tear or chop the peppers into small pieces, leaving the stems and seeds aside. Put into a bowl with the olive oil and garlic. Roll up the basil into a little cigar and chiffonade. Add to the peppers. Add the currents/vinegar, a pinch of salt and a few turns of the pepper mill. Toss. Best served after it has sat for at least a few hours to allow the flavors to blend.
Will keep for 4-5 days, well-covered and in the refrigerator.
* I usually don't rinse my peppers when removing the skin--I'm greedy for all those thick pepper juices and charred flavors.
(Image: Dana Velden)