|This Tapas Salad with Grilled Bell Peppers, Olives, and Capers is a great summer side dish.|
Even if you're not that familiar with Spanish cuisine, chances are good that you've heard of tapas, a wide variety of small-plate appetizers that are served as snacks in bars in Spain. In 2008 I visited Boston and ate at a wonderful tapas bar called Estragon with my blogging friend Lydia and her husband Ted. The next day we passed a bookstore where I spotted The Tapas Cookbook on a bargain table for $5.99 and bought it as a fun souvenir of the trip. This Grilled Bell Pepper Tapas Salad with Olives and Capers was adapted from a recipe that book, and it's a perfect little small-plate salad to accompany light summer meals. Another plus for this as a late-summer salad is that bell peppers of all colors are usually plentiful and inexpensive at farmers markets this time of year. And please don't be intimidated by the idea of grilling bell peppers; roasting red bell peppers on a barbecue grill couldn't be easier!
My version of the salad bumps up the flavor of capers by adding a little caper brine to the dressing, and I also use a generous amount of fresh marjoram, an herb that I really started to love after my sister Sandee gave me the recipe for Marinated Tomato Salad with Parsley and Marjoram Dressing. If you don't have access to fresh marjoram, I think basil or oregano would both work in this. I used regular black olives from a can, but if you want to splurge on imported Spanish olives, the salad could only get better. (I'm sorry to report that I could find no mention of this cookbook online, which makes me even more happy that I snapped it up when I saw it!)
I used a mixture of red, yellow, and orange bell peppers, but you can use any combination of colors that you find.
Then follow the instructions for roasting red bell peppers on a barbecue grill. When the peppers are nicely charred, put them in a bowl, cover with cling-wrap, and let the skins steam off.
Then cut the grilled peppers into short, thick strips. I was aiming for pieces that were all about the same size.
Whisk together olive oil, sherry vinegar, caper brine, marjoram, minced garlic, salt, and pepper to make the dressing.
(Makes about 4 small-plate servings, recipe adapted from The Tapas Cookbook.)
1 large red bell pepper
1 large yellow bell pepper
1 large orange bell pepper
(or use any combination of colors you have available)
1 can (6 oz. drained) black olives
2 T capers, rinsed and drained
2 T + 2 tsp. good quality olive oil
1 T + 1 tsp. Spanish Sherry vinegar (or substitute white wine vinegar or white balsamic vinegar)
1 tsp. caper brine
2-3 T chopped fresh marjoram (or substitute fresh basil or oregano)
1/2 tsp. minced garlic
salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste
(You may want to read How to Roast Bell Peppers on a Barbecue Grill before you make this salad.)
Preheat barbecue grill to high. Cut the bell peppers into fourths, trim curled ends and cut out the seeds. Place peppers on the grill skin side down, making sure not to put them too close together. Grill peppers until skins are very charred, about 20-25 minutes, depending on your grill. As individual peppers become nicely blackened, remove them from the grill and place in a plastic or glass bowl.
When all the peppers are charred and placed in the bowl, cover it with cling-wrap and let peppers steam for about 15 minutes. Then peel off skins and discard, and cut peppers into short thick strips. (I cut each quarter pepper into crosswise strips.)
Put olives into a colander and let them drain. Spoon out 2 T capers into a small strainer; then rinse the capers and let them drain. Wash marjoram (or other herb of your choice), dry, and chop.
Whisk together the olive oil, vinegar, caper brine, minced garlic, salt, and pepper to make the dressing. Combine grilled pepper strips, olives, capers, and dressing in a plastic or glass bowl. The salad can be served right away or allowed to marinate for several hours at room temperature until you're ready to serve it.
If you wanted to make this into a more substantial side-dish salad I think chopped fresh tomatoes or cucumbers would make a nice addition.
This kept well in the refrigerator for several days. Let come to room temperature again before serving.
South Beach Suggestions:
Everthing in this salad is a perfect low-glycemic ingredient, suitable for all phases of the South Beach Diet. For phase one, this would make a great small-plate side dish for something like Marinated Flank Steak or Grilled Garlic Chicken with Roasted Red Pepper-Aioli Sauce. (You could even roast a few extra red peppers to make the sauce.) For phase two or three I'd add something like Pesto Lemon Rice.
Ten More Tasty Ideas for Grilled or Roasted Bell Peppers:
(Recipes from other blogs not always South Beach Diet friendly; check ingredients.)
Roasted Red Pepper Dip with Feta and Mint from Kalyn's Kitchen
Roasted Red Pepper and Garlic Aioli Sauce from Kalyn's Kitchen
Pesto Pasta Salad with Olives and Roasted Red Peppers from Kalyn's Kitchen
Yellow Tomato Salad with Roasted Red Peppers, Feta, and Mint from Kalyns Kitchen
Roasted Red Pepper Hummus from Pinch My Salt
Pasta with Roasted Red Pepper Sauce from The Pioneer Woman Cooks
Bowtie Pasta with Roasted Red Peppers and Grilled Chicken from Eat at Home
Carrot and Roasted Red Pepper Soup from The Taste Space
Chickpea Salad with Roasted Red Pepper and Harissa from Healthy Green Kitchen
Spring Greens with Roasted Red Peppers and Blue Cheese from Culinary Cory
(Want even more recipes? I find these recipes from other blogs using Food Blog Search.)