Sweet Pepper and Shallot Salad: Tri-colored sweet peppers and shallots are sautéed, deglazed with a bright red wine vinaigrette then tossed with fresh greens, toasted walnuts, crumbled feta, and herbs. It’s sweet and tangy flavor mixed with fresh herbs and delicate greens makes this salad perfect to serve with fish, grilled meats, or as a meal in it’s self.
The Simple Things
Life has been pretty still lately and it’s given me time to really enjoy the simplest of things like cooking dinner with my daughter. Over a butcher block slicing vegetables, we talk and listen to music and every now and then I look up at her and wish to myself that this simple act follows us through out the years. I didn’t have this growing up. By the time I was her age, I was microwaving dinners for my brother and I while my parents worked. Looking back on it, it was pretty lonely and that’s probably why I’ve dragged her into the kitchen since she was a baby. So far, she loves it and has an adventurous palate which gives us the opportunity to cook practically anything. She does draw the line at liver — which I love, of course.
Sweet Pepper and Shallot Salad
The other day we picked up Mediterranean Sea Bass (Branzino) at the market and decided to salt roast the fish just like we do with red snapper. While we were there we found the most gorgeous and bright mini sweet peppers. It’s still 90+ degrees in Texas and peppers like these and large bell peppers are in abundance even in “fall.” Remembering some delicious sweet-pickled mini peppers from a recent charcuterie board I had at a restaurant, I grabbed some along with a bag of arugula and broccoli sprouts for a big salad to go with our branzino and it was the perfect meal.
What makes this salad stand out is the sweet tang of the peppers and onions that are quickly marinated in red wine vinegar, a touch of honey, salt and pepper after being briefly sautéed. Once cooled, the peppers and shallots are tossed with tender salad greens, feta cheese, and crunchy toasted walnuts for a perfectly balanced bite. As well as roasted or sautéed fish, I can see this pairing well with grilled meats, especially beef.
- White Wines such as Sancerre, Verdicchio, Pecorino, Vermentino, and Assyrtiko.
Tri-colored sweet peppers and shallots are sautéed, deglazed with a bright red wine vinegairette then tossed with fresh greens, toasted walnuts, crumbled feta, and herbs.
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 pound sweet mini bell peppers, sliced in rings
- 2 large shallots, sliced in rings
- 1/2 cup quality red wine vinegar
- 1 tablespoon honey or agave syrup
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
- 1/3 cup walnut halves
- 8 ounces arugula
- 1 small head radicchio, thinly shredded
- 1/3 cup crumbled feta
- 1/4 cup parsley leaves
- 1 tablespoon fresh thyme
- 1 tablespoon fresh oregano
- 1 tablespoon Mexican oregano flowers, optional
- 1/2 lemon
In a large sauté pan over medium heat, heat 1 tablespoon of oil then sauté peppers and shallots until lightly softened but still firm, about 5 to 8 minutes. Deglaze the pan with vinegar, stirring to release any cooked bits from the bottom of the pan and remove from heat. Add honey, remaining oil, salt, and pepper and stir until combined. Allow to sit at room temperature for at least 20 minutes or refrigerate overnight.
In a skillet over medium heat, toast walnuts until golden and fragrant, about 5 minutes. Remove from skillet and cool.
In a large bowl, toss to combine arugula, radicchio, walnuts, herbs, and cooled peppers and shallots with the vinegar. Garnish with oregano flowers, if using, and finish off with a squeeze of lemon.
Arugula and radicchio are used in this salad for a peppery/bitter contrast to the sweet peppers but a variety of small greens can also be used. Try endive, frisée, escarole, or maché and even broccoli sprouts work.
Mexican oregano flowers are rarely found in stores. I use it a lot because I have a large oregano bush that blooms about 9 months of the year. They have a strong oregano flavor and bring lots of color to a dish. You can absolutely omit them without affecting the flavor of the salad.