It had been a couple of weeks since the vegetables had been addressed. Many of them, having seen the colorful forms of mold forgotten polenta could achieve in the dark depths of a neglected refrigerator, simply fell into compost-ready oblivion. But the peppers were blessedly still there, gleaming red and gold. Before there was any chance to protest, they were roasted, the blistering skin emitting a scent not unlike freshly fallen leaves. A perfect fall dish, but what else had survived that could accompany it? There, a red onion had escaped the fate of so many other neglected vegetables. A shallot, too! The spicy alliums were wedged and set to cook, long and slow, in a luxurious bath of fruity olive oil. Potatoes, ever the survivor of the most brutal refrigerator disaster, were scrubbed up, fresh skins almost glowing. They were quickly diced, tossed with more olive oil and a hit of salt and pepper, and slid into a hot oven. The roasted peppers were gently relieved of their dark blistering skins, revealing a sweet slippery flesh close to velvet. They were roughly sliced and added to the pot where the onions and shallots now lay, glistening and translucent. A few capers, a pinch of salt, a grind of pepper were thrown on top, and everything swirled together, followed by a turn in the oven so the silky smooth vegetables could have time to get to know one another, to let their flavors mingle deeply.
The simple honest dry saltiness of the potatoes played nicely with the impossibly smooth and juicy sweetness of the peppers. The onions faded back into the background, a hint of earth in this burst of sunshine released in hot sugar form. A single piece of potato was dropped to the ground in remembrance of all the vegetables that had gone before in this most recent round of refrigerator neglect. May it never happen again.
Save the Vegetables (i.e. a recipe entirely based on what survived three crazy weeks of freelance)
Root through your neglected refrigerator, bemoaning the waste you created with all those vegetables bought just before an onslaught of work. Vow to never do it again. Again. Cook something, anything, with everything you have left, making it work for the memory of all the others who have gone before.
You will want to roast the peppers first, then preheat the oven.
Preheat oven to 350°. Lightly oil a baking sheet
6 small potatoes, preferably of a variety like Yukon Gold, scrubbed and diced small
salt and pepper
In a bowl, tossed together the potatoes, salt, pepper, and a generous pour of olive oil. Spread onto the prepared baking sheet, keeping it in a single layer. Throw into the oven. Bake until done (about 35-40 minutes, depending on size of dice and character of potato).
6 bell peppers, red and yellow (farmer’s markets are great for this, because otherwise they cost a fortune in the grocery store)
1 red onion, peeled and wedged
1-2 shallots, peeled and wedged
a luxurious pour of olive oil
about a tsp. of capers
salt and pepper
Roast the peppers. I like to seed them first and set them on an oiled pan under the broiler until they turn black and bubbly, then throw them in a large bowl and cover with a plate so they can steam for a good ten minutes. With a round this large, I did them in shifts. While they are steaming…
In a large pot or dutch oven, pour in a generous hit of olive oil. Warm the oil over low heat. Add the onions and shallots and cook over low heat until they become soft and translucent.
After about ten minutes, using only your fingers (or a paper towel, if you must) remove as much as you can of the skins, which should slide off at this point. DO NOT rinse under water, it really takes the flavor away. I have never managed to get all the skin off, something always sticks. Slice thickly lengthwise. Throw into the pot with the onions and shallots. Once all the peppers have been added, add in the capers and salt and pepper to taste. Cover and slide into the oven with the potatoes and cook for at least 20 minutes.
Eat slowly with a glass of wine, and vow to make more time to cook.