During the summer months, Tony visits the farmer's market every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday at the Dike East in Fargo to purchase fresh, local produce for Sarello's and find inspiration for the week's specials.
Thanks to this past week's heat wave, his friend, Jim Driscoll of Driscoll Farms in Glyndon, Minn., introduced red peppers to his standard fare. When Tony came home with a big bag of these roasting beauties, you'd have thought he won the lottery.
Roasted Red Peppers are one of his mother's specialties, and I can't recall a time when we've visited Marianna that she hasn't served them. This is a classic Italian dish, particularly in Sicily, and it embodies everything Tony loves about food: fresh, simple, delicious and filled with family memories.
Roasted peppers taste quite different from their raw state, as the process concentrates their flavor and brings out their natural sweetness through caramelization. Red, yellow or orange peppers all work well for roasting, but the red are Tony's favorite for both color and flavor. For some reason, green peppers don't produce the same flavor, and we never use them for roasting.
We put our peppers directly on the grill and roast them evenly on all sides until they are almost completely black. Tony's mother uses a charcoal grill and places the peppers directly on the coals, which adds more intensity and depth of flavor to the dish, but a gas grill will also yield great results.
Roasted red peppers are a great side dish for any food, but they are especially good when served with red meat because the flavors complement each other well.
Tony's choice of meat for this occasion was a top sirloin roast, which has great flavor and is reasonably priced. When ordering this cut of meat, ask your local butcher to prepare it for you and allow about eight ounces per serving, which will yield two servings a pound.
Searing the meat first over high, direct heat will seal in the juices, and letting the meat rest after cooking will ensure the juices don't run out when carving. Tony also recommends using a meat thermometer whenever cooking meat to ensure the correct temperature is achieved.
A dear friend of mine stopped by last Friday, and we enjoyed Tony's roasted red peppers with chilled, grilled sirloin from Thursday's photo shoot for lunch, along with horseradish cream sauce, fresh garden salad and white sangria. Mmm. Just another day in my life with the Lost Italian.
Marianna's Roasted Red Peppers
Serves: 4 to 6
4 red bell peppers, washed
3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced lengthwise (not diced or minced)
2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
½ teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon black pepper
Roast the peppers whole on direct, high heat, turning the pepper every so often until the skin turns black on all sides and just begins to blister. If using a charcoal grill, place the peppers directly on the coals for even better flavor.
When done, place the peppers in a brown paper bag, fold it shut and let sit for about 10 minutes, or until the peppers are just cool enough to handle. Remove the black skin, leaving just a little bit on for added flavor. Once the skin has been removed, tear the pepper into half-inch strips and remove the seeds and veins.
Place them in a medium-sized bowl and mix with the sliced garlic, extra virgin olive oil, salt, pepper and a little bit of basil. They can be eaten warm or refrigerated for up to one week.
- Roasted Red Peppers freeze beautifully, defrost quickly, and keep their taste and texture. Once the skins, seeds, and veins have been removed, the peppers can be frozen whole or torn into strips. Place in a freezer bag in user-friendly quantities and freeze for up to three months or longer.
- Never rinse the peppers once they've been roasted, as this will greatly diminish their flavor.
Top Sirloin Roast
Serves 6 to 8
4 pounds top sirloin roast, prepared by local butcher
6 to 8 whole garlic cloves, peeled
1 Tablespoon kosher salt
½ Tablespoon crushed black pepper
1 Tablespoon olive oil
Start the grill on high heat.
Use a paring knife to cut slits in the top of the roast and insert the whole garlic cloves. Sprinkle the salt and pepper evenly over the entire roast, and drizzle the top with olive oil.
Place the roast on direct, high heat and sear on all sides to create a crust to seal in juices (one to two minutes per side). Then cook the roast on the grill over indirect heat, at a temperature around 350-450 degrees, allowing about 20 minutes per pound of meat.
Use a meat thermometer to achieve a perfect medium-rare between 130 degrees and 135 degrees. Remove from the grill, transfer to a cutting board, cover with aluminum foil and allow the meat to rest for 10 minutes before carving. This will ensure that the juices don't run out.
- The top sirloin is also delicious when served chilled, or at room temperature, thinly sliced.
- As with any red meat, we recommend serving this with our horseradish cream sauce, which is available on our blog at www.thelostitalian.areavoices.com.