It’s been said that one of the best things about living / visiting the South of France is the chance to experience the Provençal markets. Fresh, colorful, and always full of interesting locals, sometimes more colorful than the produce itself, markets serve as the heart / gathering point of many southern towns. Plus, they’re just so very pretty. I try to go to the markets as much as possible. Busy days being what they are, that’s not always easy, but on my lunch breaks I’m usually able to squeeze in a quick stroll among the stands. Even if I’m not “equipped” to make a big purchase, there’s something about seeing all the vivid colors that makes the day just a bit brighter – and gives me quite a lot of inspiration for cooking projects to come.
And then there’s the peppers – bright red, green, and yellow beauties that provide endless ideas for elegant dishes. We can’t get enough of them… in fact, I found an entire book dedicated to pepper recipes in a discount bookstore here in town. The French really like their themed-food books. Don’t get me started on macarons…
Although they’re not “officially” in season yet – dangerous territory to venture into in France – we’ve already started knocking out a few recipes. I found this one particularly good, the roasted pine nuts & extra drizzle of olive oil really did the trick. And you can never go wrong with fresh basil, très très bon. Bon appétit!
Poivrons-mozzarella au basilic
2 red peppers
1 yellow pepper
2 rounds of mozzarella cheese
1/2 bunch of fresh basil
1 1/2 oz of pine nuts
fleur de sel (or regular salt)
crushed white pepper
Preheat the oven to 356° F. Wrap each pepper in aluminium foil, then place them on an oven rack and bake for 35 minutes.
Take the peppers out of the oven, then enclose them in a plastic bag (the recipe recommends a “freezer” bag). Let them cool down for 15 minutes. Take the peppers out of the sack and remove the aluminium foil. Peel them, take out the stem and the seeds. Cut each pepper into wide strips – about to 6 to 8 strips.
Cut the mozzarella as thin as possible and place the slices on serving plates, overlapping them with the strips of peppers.
Press the lemons and drizzle their juice over the plates. Place basil leaves on top of the mozzarella/peppers and drizzle with olive oil.
At serving time, grill the pine nuts in a pan (no oil needed) for one minute. Sprinkle them over the plates and finish by adding a touch of fleur de sel and crushed white pepper.
-recipe credit: J’aime et je cuisine: le Poivron, Rustica editions 2008