“That book bored me,” my mother said, as she handed me a bowl of peppers from the refrigerator.
I paused, trying to figure out if we were talking about the same book. “Fifty Shades of Grey. Really?”
“The writing was terrible. And there are only so many times -”
“Before getting hit by a riding crop repeatedly becomes hilarious?” I joked.
My mother turned her back to me and stood on her tip-toes to open the top cupboard. “Yes,” she replied, retrieving a parcel of tightly wrapped flatbread. She set it down on the island and started to unravel the packaging.
Impatient from hunger, I grabbed it from her. “I haven’t read it myself, but I can’t believe you thought it was boring,” I said, ripping off the layers of seemingly never ending plastic wrap. “It’s basically porn for bored suburban housewives.”
My mother folded her arms. “Well I’m not one. Your father and I -”
“Jesus, Ma, I really don’t want to talk about your sex life,” I snapped, finally freeing the flatbread.
“Jesus has nothing to do with it!” my father called from the living room.
My mother smirked as she tore off a piece of flatbread and dipped it into the hummus.
I yelled back, “Dad, are you really eavesdropping on a conversation about Fifty Shades of Grey?”
“Your mother said it was boring!”
“Let’s just go back to where I’m adopted,” I muttered, horrified about what the conversation between the two could have entailed. They did say it was boring after all.
“You’re not adopted!” my mother protested, “You were a product of love.”
“Will you stop!” I said, stabbing a pepper with a fork. The vinegar marinade splashed onto the granite countertop.
My mother glanced at the spill but didn’t move to clean it up. “We love you very much.”
I folded my piece of flatbread over the pepper, “I know, but that doesn’t mean you need to pull out the easel from the basement and illustrate ‘How You Were Made,’ again.”
“I wasn’t going to do that.”
My mother tore off another piece of flatbread. She handed it to me and pushed over a different bowl she had taken out of the fridge. “Try it with the pickled onions. And I promise I won’t bring out the easel.”
I moved my hand towards the bowl.
“Unless you want me to of course.”
I love that both the onions and peppers maintain a sweetness despite the tangy red wine vinegar marinade. I’ve eaten these with flatbread and hummus, in a pita with falafel, and generously piled onto a veggie burger. They’re a wonderful change up to ingredients for a salad, and the peppers are quite lovely with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil on top of a baguette.
Recipe from Mom
Could Easily Serve 4 as an Appetizer
A roasting pan/baking sheet lined with aluminum foil
A spare sheet of aluminum foil (to cover your peppers with once they come out of the oven)
A sharp knife
2 small mixing bowls
Tongs (or whatever you’re comfortable rotating your roasting peppers with)
for the Marinated Peppers
6 bell peppers (I used red but any color you like should work fine)
Half cup of red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon of coarse sea salt
1 garlic clove, minced
for the Quick Pickled Onions
1 red onion, sliced thinly
Half cup of red wine vinegar
Quarter cup of water
2 teaspoons of sugar
1 tablespoon of coarse sea salt
Place your oven rack to the middle position in the oven. Preheat the oven to 400F.
While you’re waiting for the oven to preheat, work on your onions. Add the red wine vinegar, water, sugar and coarse sea salt to one of your small mixing bowls. Whisk the ingredients together until the sugar and salt (nearly) dissolve. Add the sliced onions, and toss them a few times into the pickling liquid with your hands. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and set it aside for at least an hour. (You could technically eat them within a half an hour, but the longer they sit the better they are.) *If it’s a hot summer day in your non-airconditioned apartment, I’d advise throwing the onions in the refrigerator to pickle as they’re more appetizing to eat cold than at 90F.
In your second mixing bowl, add the red wine vinegar, coarse sea salt and minced garlic. Whisk the ingredients together until the salt is (nearly) dissolved. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside.
By now hopefully your oven has preheated to 400F. Place the peppers onto the lined roasting pan. Bake the peppers for 45 minutes – 1 hour, (turning them over half way through roasting) or until they become very soft. It’s better to cook them longer than shorter as you want them to be extremely well done so that the skins come off easily.
When the peppers are very soft, remove them from the oven but leave them on the lined tray. Very carefully (in fact, I did this while still wearing my oven mitts) cover the lined tray with another sheet of aluminum foil, sealing the peppers in. Set them aside until they’re cool enough to handle.
Once cool, remove the skins and seeds from the peppers. Then slice the peppers into easily edible pieces.
Add the sliced peppers to your vinegar and garlic mixture. Toss the peppers with your hands into the ingredients. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and set aside for at least an hour. Again, the longer they sit the better they will be. Also, if it’s hot in your kitchen, I’d advise letting them marinate in your fridge.
After the onions and peppers have marinated for at least an hour (they’re even better overnight), you can serve them right out of the bowl.