a Plate of Amazing Peppers and Anchovies at Home

Excerpt from Ari’s Top 5 enews

Early autumn excellence you can make in a matter of minutes

This time of year in Ann Arbor, most of the summer’s produce is done for the season, but we still have a bounty of fresh peppers coming in for another week or two. Tammie has been bringing home some beauties from Tamchop Farm. For the first time ever, she has grown Tunisian Baklouti peppers (the key pepper in the Moulin des Mahjoub’s marvelous harissa). She’s also got the terrifically tasty Jimmy Nardellos, and her favorite, Serbian Elephant Ears! The Ann Arbor Farmers Market has an even wider range than that! This great dish is an easy way to turn the peppers into a terrific appetizer or salad in under 20 minutes.

One way to prepare this would be by roasting the peppers first over an open flame until the skins are charred. When they’re cool enough to handle, scrape off the char (a little bit left is fine), and then cut the peppers into thick strips. Alternatively, you can do it the way Tammie and I have been—cut the peppers into thick strips and then do a long slow sauté (or maybe it’s almost a pan fry) in a good amount of extra virgin olive oil until the pepper strips are very soft and almost caramelized around the edges. If you like garlic, add a peeled and lightly bruised clove to the oil while the peppers are cooking.

When the peppers are done, put them on a nice platter (if you sautéed the peppers, also put the olive oil from the cooking on the plate). Arrange anchovies on top. I’ve been a big fan of the lovely anchovies we’re getting from the folks at Fishwife. The Fishwives are getting these great anchovy filets from a third-generation cannery in Northern Spain beside the Cantabrian Sea. The quality of the little fish is increased by being packed in really good Spanish extra virgin olive oil (most anchovies, even really good ones, are packed in the lower grade “pure” oil). Everything about these anchovies is excellent—from the eating quality of the little fish, to Fishwife’s founders Becca and Caroline’s values-based approach to business, to the small company they source the fish from, to the beautiful illustrations on the package by designer Danny Miller.

Once you have the peppers and anchovies on the plate, you can, if you want, add a bit more extra virgin olive oil and a touch of freshly ground black pepper. You can also add capers, crumbled feta, or goat cheese alongside. If you aren’t into anchovies, try it with high-quality tuna! Or pile it on a plate with fresh burrata. If you like, you can also turn the mix into a sandwich by putting the peppers and anchovies onto a Bakehouse baguette. You can also use it, too, to toss with pasta. In any or all of these ways, it’s a wonderful celebration of the season.