This was a busy week, in a good way, but also in a way that leaves you craving for a two-hour massage. A two-hour massage is a costly thing and I could not quite get myself to splurge -- now that the weekend is gone and another workweek is lurking at me, in retrospect I should have done it. Instead we (read Miss Pain) had a tennis lesson, and a swim playdate, and a non-swim playdate, and a dinner with girlfriends. There was a collage to make and story to write for the homework, a letter for the teacher, a pantry clean-up project and laundry. (I defaulted on laundry.) I thought that God had intended weekends as the days of rest, or at least Sundays, but when this Sunday was over I needed not two but four hours of massage and a meditation, and you know what, next week I am doing it.
But the trip to the market kind of made up for all of the above. Market is my thing, September produce is my thing, and then there was a special surprise. I discovered that a dude selling veggies at Lani’s farm-stand at the Tribeca market is from Sarajevo. Imagine that! I have been buying my veggies at Lani’s for many years and we always have a nice chat, “how are you,” “busy day,” “nice chard” and that kind of stuff. He calls me Miss, which is always much appreciated and feels like a million dollar makeover. So after all this years only this morning it occurred to me to ask my market friend where he is coming from. Sarajevo! Imagine that! I am from Belgrade, and once upon a time we used to share the same country. I spent my summers on Croatian islands, went skiing to Slovenian Alps and had some mighty great adventures in Bosnia as well as many wonderful friends, and I still carry inside me the pieces of my ill-fated country. He eyeballed my purchase and smiled, “Belgrade folks buy nothing but peppers.” It was so funny and so true, especially in September. In September, the stalls at the Belgrade market turn into mountains of peppers and there is scarcely any room left for other produce; we buy truckloads of them and take home to stuff, bake, fry, preserve and above everything else make ajvar.
And here I am, at the end of a long week, with my truckload of peppers, contemplating what to make. There is no time to make ajvar. Maybe next weekend if I can bail out of the tennis lesson and the homework, in the meantime, I do have an arsenal of less time-consuming pepper dishes to consider.
Before I forget, do go to the market next week, because there is no produce like September peppers; they have patiently cultivated that special kind of sweetness, bursting with sunshine and aromas of long lazy days, ripe with flavors and happiness of the waning summer. It hardly gets better than that.
Garlic Fried Peppers
* 6-8 peppers
* 10-12 garlic cloves, large cut in quarters, small cut in halves
* about 1/4 cup of extra virgin olive oil
* coarse sea salt (I use Maldon)
* freshly ground black pepper
* large frying or sauté pan with lid
Oil the pan and heat the oil over medium-high heat. Place the peppers in the pan in one layer (do not overcrowd) and cover. The role of the lid is to prevent splatters but to also keep steam in – essentially you will be half frying and half steaming the peppers.
Fry while stirring occasionally. Keep the heat high enough so that peppers are frying, but not too high to burn the peppers. (On my stove it is medium-high, but it will require some experimentation.) When the peppers begin to char, add the garlic, cover and continue to fry until peppers are very soft and garlic is golden (it will take about 20 minutes or so, sometimes more or less, depending on the heat, type of peppers, etc.). And you may find that somewhere towards the end of cooking you may need to reduce the heat to medium. Heat is kind of and important factor for this dish...
Remove peppers from the heat, place in a bowl, pierce with a fork here and there, pour the juices and garlic on top and cover. Let them sit for about an hour to soften, cool and release more juices. Before serving sprinkle with coarse sea salt and a tiny bit of pepper.
You may want to add a touch of balsamic or lemon juice. (I do not.) And, most importantly -- make sure you have fresh bread to dip in -- that is the best part!
p.s. I like to use a different types of peppers in this dish, they taste differently and you end up with an explosion of flavors. This however, does put additional demands on the cook, because different types of peppers will cook differently and you will have to spend more time monitoring the dish.