Several years ago, after I was already living in California, an Italian friend of mine suggested I read one of Camilleri's mysteries. I followed her advice, read La Forma dell'Acqua (The Shape of Water) and fell in love with Camilleri's writing.
At the very beginning of chapter 10 of The Shape of Water, the first mystery Andrea Camilleri wrote that has inspector Salvo Montalbano as protagonist, our hero finds a generous portion of peperoni arrosto in the fridge and eating them has a regenerative effect on him. Adelina, the housekeeper, usually leaves food for Montalbano either in the fridge or in the oven, and he always welcomes what he finds with joy. If the weather permits it, he sets the table on the veranda, so he can eat while looking at, and listening to, the sea. After eating the peperoni arrosto, Montalbano is ready for his next move, a phone call to Ingrid Sjostrom, a Swedish woman married to a Sicilian man. The conversation that follows includes some embarrassing exchanges, but their relationship quickly recovers from the awkward start and in time it evolves into a friendship that will help Montalbano not only in the current but also in future adventures.
Yesterday morning, as I arrived at the farmers' market, I was greeted by what you see on the photo. And that was just the beginning: stalls were overflowing with bell peppers of all colors, shapes and sizes. I bought four and roasted them: Montalbano would have approved. Following on Adelina's footsteps, I made a simple yet delicious dish, colorful and full of flavor, like a small piece of Sicily (which I will visit soon, though not the area where the Montalbano stories are set).
I roasted in the oven the four specimens I had put in my basket. Some people prefer to roast the peppers over a flame (I don't have a gas range, so I cannot use a flame). I roasted them at 375 F for about 40 minutes, turning them every 10 minutes. I placed the roasted peppers inside a paper bag until cool, then peeled them, removed the seeds and cut them into strips. I spread the strips on a plate, alternating the different colors. One thing Montalbano misses, since he is not a cook, is the smell of food as it is being prepared. I am sorry for him: I enjoy following the progress of what I am preparing with my nose, as well as with my eyes.
I minced 3 small cloves of garlic (tre spicchi d'aglio), together with a tablespoon of fresh origano1 and two tablespoons of fresh parsley (prezzemolo) and distributed garlic and herbs over the peppers. I sprinkled some salt and freshly-ground black pepper and finally seasoned the whole dish with a thread of olive oil. I let the peperoni arrosto marinate for a couple of hours and served them for dinner, at room temperature. Salvo Montalbano was not a guest at our dinner table. I would be terrified at the prospect of cooking for such a buongustaio (gourmet). My husband and I enjoyed the peperoni arrosto while looking at, and listening to, the ocean.
1 The seasoning for my peperoni arrosto is pretty standard. The addition of oregano was suggested to me by a recipe for this dish displayed on a site dedicated to Camilleri and his novels.
Click on the button to hear me pronounce the Italian words mentioned in the post:
or launch the peperoni arrosto audio file [mp3].
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