I wanted to give you another hors d’oeuvre this week because, well…’tis the season. You may be planning to host a party, attend one or just want to be prepared for those “pop ins” that are more frequent this time of year than any other.
While deciding which dish to share, and trying out a couple of options during a recent happy hour, a friend turned to me and said, “I need this recipe!” Decision made. The funny thing was that the recipe to which she was referring is one that I had been making for more years than I care to admit. It is written on the same yellow index card that all my first favorite recipes are recorded. I used to keep them in a purple, wooden recipe box until the box became so tightly packed that searching for a specific card or browsing the soup category was nearly impossible. At that point I moved to a 3-ring binder system with plastic sleeves to encase each printed, torn or written recipe. I still house my favorites in one of two such binders but have been slowly migrating over to electronic files–as with most areas of life, convenience superseding tradition.
On with Peppers Provencal. I’m not sure from where this recipe originated–the card has no source which is unusual given my “system.” As with most of my recipes, this one can be made in advance (days, even) and should be served on or alongside toasted bread. The peppers and onions will cook down substantially but a little scoop goes a long way because they are packed with flavor.
And, it’s that unique flavor that will get your guests’ attention. Most won’t be able to pinpoint it but there is just a little something that sets these peppers apart. The title is a giveaway as “Provencal” is in reference to the French home of herbes de Provence. Herbes de Provence are a mixture of savory, marjoram, thyme, rosemary, oregano and lavender. You really can’t make the dish without this particular spice blend and over the years I’ve increased the amount–I love it that much. So if a container of herbes de Provence is not already on your spice rack, go out and pick one up. I promise that you will use it over and over for this recipe, if nothing else. As a matter of fact, a pretty crock of herbes de Provence with the Peppers Provencal recipe attached (on a handwritten card, of course!) would make a perfect holiday gift. Hmmm…I think I should have just issued a “Spoiler Alert” to my friends out there. Enjoy!
- 1/4 c best quality olive oil
- 2 Tbls sweet butter
- 2 c yellow onions, thinly sliced
- 2 sweet red peppers, sliced into very thin strips
- 1 tsp herbes de Provence
- 1 tsp salt
- freshly ground pepper, a couple of grinds
- 2 garlic cloves, finely minced
- 1/2 c finely shredded fresh basil leaves
- baguette, sliced and toasted for serving
- Heat oil and butter together in a heavy skillet until butter is melted.
- Add onion and peppers; season with herbes de Provence, salt and pepper.
- Simmer, stirring frequently, for approximately 45 minutes.
- Vegetables should be limp, tender and lightly browned. They should have a marmalade-like consistency.
- Add garlic and basil and cook for another 5 minutes.
- Drain excess oil from the skillet (there will be plenty but this is needed to cook the peppers and onions slowly without burning or sticking to the bottom of the pan) and transfer the vegetables to a small bowl.
- Serve warm or at room temperature, on or with the toasted bread.
- These peppers can be made several days in advance and stored in the refrigerator in a tightly closed container.