One of the things I love most of all about Lebanese food, and Mediterranean food in general, is the stunning array of options when it comes to vegetarian dishes. What is beautiful about these dishes is that they are whole heartedly vegetarian, and not simply meat containing dishes with the meat taken out. The vegetable itself is the star of the show, and its flavour and texture are celebrated, matched with anything from olive oil to garlic, onions, spices, vinegars or wines in order to create something wonderful in its simplicity while being absolutely delicious.
Recently, I treated myself to a copy of MoVida Rustica, a book on Spanish food that has quickly become one of my favourite books of all times. Written by Frank Camora from Melbourne’s phenomenal MoVida (see my 2009 review of MoVida Next Door here), the book is a treasure trove of photography, stories and recipes. One of the book’s many vegetable centric recipes is one for preserved red capsicums. Now, I love preserves as much as the next person, but I am also one for instant gratification and am all for the immediate enjoyment of the fruits of my labour. I’m sure the flavour of this dish would improve by making it as a preserve, but it’s also so damn good eaten the moment it cools down. Can it get any better than smoky, sweet capsicums drizzled with olive oil, and spiked with vinegar, with nothing but a touch of sea salt flakes to balance it all out? This dish is so easy that the recipe doesn’t need much explaining. Simply roast some red capsicums in an oven at 200c until they are blackened. Put in a plastic bag and let them steam until they are cool enough to handle. Discard the skins, membranes and seeds and mix the flesh with enough olive oil and malt vinegar (I used balsamic vinegar) and sprinkle some sea salt flakes on top. Enjoy with some bread and a glass of vino.