Roasted red pepper and anchovy salad on roasted garlic toasts
The red peppers in Spain are outstanding and there is almost nothing better than peppers roasted in a proper wood-fired oven, a service that during my childhood was provided by the village baker. I’ll always remember the aroma that filled the house when my mother returned from the baker’s bearing a large tray of these wonderful vegetables. The combination of sweet roasted red peppers and salty anchovies is always a winner. This can be served as a tapas, as the larger Basquestyle pintxos or even as a light lunch with a dressed green salad and a poached egg. If you’re in a hurry, instead of roasting the red peppers, use a jar/can of Piquillo peppers, which are already roasted and skinned, and have a great smoky flavor.
2 large heads of garlic, unpeeled, plus
1 fat clove, finely chopped
4 large thyme sprigs
11/2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
4 large red bell peppers
2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
8 small slices of rustic white bread,
about 1/2-inch thick
16 good-quality anchovy fillets in olive oil,
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Preheat the oven to 400°F. Remove the outer papery skin from each head of garlic and take a thin slice off the top of each one to expose the cloves.
Tear off a large square of foil, place the heads of garlic in the center, add 2 of the thyme sprigs, drizzle each head with 1 teaspoon of the olive oil, and sprinkle with a little salt. Wrap securely in the foil, place in a small roasting pan along with the peppers, and roast on the top shelf of the oven for 20–30 minutes, turning the peppers once or twice until the skins have blackened in places. Remove the peppers from the pan, drop them into a plastic bag and leave until cool enough to handle. Return the garlic parcels to the oven and roast for another 35 minutes, or until the cloves feel very soft when pressed.
Meanwhile, slit open the peppers, working over a bowl so that you catch all the juices, and remove and discard the stalks, seeds and skin. Tear the flesh into 1/2-inch-wide strips, and add to the bowl of juices with the chopped garlic clove, vinegar, the remaining thyme leaves, and the rest of the olive oil. Stir well together.
Remove the garlic from the oven and set the parcel aside. Toast the slices of bread. (I like to put mine on the bars of a preheated cast-iron ridged griddle long enough to give the bread a slightly smoky taste, then finish it off in the toaster.) Unwrap the roasted garlic, squeeze some of the purée from each clove and spread it onto the toast while both are still hot.
Sprinkle with a few sea salt flakes and some black pepper. Season the pepper strips with a little salt to taste and spoon onto the garlic toast. Garnish each slice with the anchovy fillets, drizzle over some of the pepper juices, and serve while the toast is still crisp.
(* Recipe from Jose Pizarro's Spanish Flavors-Published in US by Kyle Books, January 2013- Photos by Emma Lee)