The weather here is finally getting warmer. FINALLY. Last year at this time, it was already warm. As a matter of fact, my herbs began growing in March of last year when we had a streak of 70° degree weather. I think it even hit 80° a few times. And by mid-April, my chives were huge. So huge, in fact, I was using chives on every dish… and I had chive blossoms everywhere: I was making egg salad with them & chive blossom vinegar with them, and I had jars of them on my counters like they were flowers until late June. This year? They’re tiny little green shoots still, no sign of blooms. So I’ve been waiting patiently for things to get a bit warmer, or at least for the snow & sleet to finally stop… and the fact that it’s been in the 50’s lately (except for a few days) and relatively nice out, save for some rain & very cold nights, makes me really happy. And tomorrow it’s going to be around 66°!
Hey, it’s the little things. Like the weather getting warmer, or the flavor of a bright red pepper that means summer is coming.
(This photo is from last summer)
And at least in 50°-60° weather you can start to garden, or go for long walks and get some fresh air. And- even though it might be too cold to eat outdoors- you can maybe cook outdoors! Which is where today’s recipe comes in. It’s a fresh & easy side dish (or burger topping, or salad topping, or hell- even a hot dog topping) that takes no time at all to make. It’s great on sandwiches or with sandwiches.
When choosing your peppers, choose ones that feel heavy for their size. Avoid ones with wrinkles, cracks or blemishes; pick ones with taut, firm skin.
TANGY FOUR-COLOR BELL PEPPER SALAD
Makes about 3 pints
- 1 large red bell pepper, seeded and thinly sliced
- 1 large green bell pepper, seeded and thinly sliced
- 1 large orange bell pepper, seeded and thinly sliced
- 1 large yellow bell pepper, seeded and thinly sliced
- 1 cup grape tomatoes, sliced in half
- 2/3 cup olive oil
- 2/3 cup white-wine vinegar
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1 teaspoon Kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 4 teaspoons fresh basil (or 2 teaspoons dried)
- 4 teaspoons fresh oregano (or 2 teaspoons dried)
- Place peppers and tomatoes in a large glass jar with lid, or mix them together in a large mixing bowl. Shake or stir to combine; set aside.
- In a small bowl, combine olive oil, vinegar, sugar, salt, pepper, basil, and oregano, whisking well. If using a jar to mix, pour mixture over peppers, then close lid and shake well to coat. If using a bowl, scoop the pepper mix into the jar(s) and then pour the liquid over them, equally if using more than one jar. Add more vinegar & oil in equal parts if desired (to fill jars with more liquid, if needed). The liquid should be at least halfway up the jar.
- Serve slaw from jar if desired, immediately, or store covered in the refrigerator. Salad is best when made a day before serving, so all the flavors can meld together.
The dressing itself is awesome, and once the peppers are gone I recommend keeping it to use as a salad dressing. The peppers impart their flavor into it after sitting in it for a while, so it makes a great peppery Italian-like salad dressing.
I served it a little over 24 hours after making it alongside & on top of big ol’ fresh green salads that included romaine, iceberg, red cabbage, carrots and baby arugula.
But like I said- it’s excellent with just about anything. Here are some other serving ideas:
- Just like that open-face tomato & feta sandwich I made last year with my garden fixin’s, this is a great dish to make on a really hot day. And, also like that sandwich, it’d be fantastic eaten just as it is as a light summer picnic meal, maybe with a little feta crumbled on top.
- This would be really good with the Southern pickled shrimp I posted last year, too, maybe on a bed of greens. (Those pickled shrimp aren’t what you think, by the way. They’re like ceviche de camarones- just shrimp in an herby seasoned olive oil/lemon juice mixture. No vinegar. Don’t be afraid!)
- Speaking of greens, like I said above, it’s awesome on top of a regular ol’ lettuce salad, too. The peppers are perfect additions to any salad, and the vinagrette that’s already in the jar is an amazing salad dressing in and of itself.
- Oh, wait- here’s another GENIUS idea: mix it with some cold pasta & fresh grated parmesan as a pasta salad- with or without a 1/4 cup of mayo.
- As a hamburger topping. The tang of the vinegary peppers with a thick, juicy burger is perfect!
- Alternatively, this would be delicious as the filling of a wrap. Maybe with some grilled chicken, or shrimp, or even with avocado, sliced portobello mushrooms or black beans if you’re a vegetarian.
Mmm. Oh man- now I’m getting hungry.
And it takes literally, like, five minutes to pull together. Store it in pint jars in the fridge for a quick fix- just pull one out an hour or so before you want to use it to let the oil come back to it’s normal consistency and you’re good to go. I actually made one quart jar (above) and a pint jar… I mean, if you really want to, make 6 half-pint jars. It doesn’t matter. Whatever.
For an even more colorful salad, you can use small different colored heirloom tomatoes such as Black Cherry, Blondkopfchen, Snow White, Hartman’s Yellow Gooseberry or Sun Gold. And if you can find a purple Bell pepper, or a chocolate Bell pepper, then add them too! Last but not least: you can also add a head of cabbage, thinly sliced, to this. Then it would become a kind of “slaw” I suppose… but boy would that give it some heft. Not to mention make a massive portion! You can also add a chopped red onion to it, or celery. Experiment! Try adding cilantro instead of basil & oregano for a different flavor. Use rice vinegar instead of white wine vinegar & sesame oil instead of olive oil for an Asian spin. Shake things up.
Literally. I mean, shake the jar to mix it up.