“Magic” Peppers Salad with Pine Nuts & Capers
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Is it me or does everything feel too much like hard work right now?
Removing kernels from cobs; blanching anything; peeling anything; slicing anything — it’s all too much. This is unfortunate because so many of my favorite summer dishes — fresh corn polenta, Hazan’s tomato sauce, roasted red pepper sandwiches — require a teensy bit of elbow grease.
Or do they?
On Monday, anticipating another load of peppers in my farm share, I cooked off the stash in my fridge using a no-fuss method I have eyed for years in Sally Schneider’s The Improvisational Cook.
As an alternative to roasted peppers, which, as we know, require blistering, steaming, and peeling, Schneider roasts strips of peppers at high heat with olive oil and whatever seasonings she has on hand. She serves the peppers hot from the oven as a simple hors d’oeuvre but also uses them in countless ways: in free form tarts with olives and goat cheese (yum!), in pasta with molten mozzarella, in bruschetta with anchovies and ricotta salata, in romesco sauce with almonds and toasted bread, to name a few. For their versatility, Schneider named these strips “magic” peppers.
And that they are — emerging from the oven with edges caramelized, flesh softened, and flavor concentrated, these peppers are 99% as enjoyable as their more traditional cousins and 199% easier to get on the table. Inspired by Schneider’s bruschetta and improvisational spirit, I chopped and mixed my magic peppers with what I had on hand: cherry tomatoes, mozzarella, pine nuts, capers, and cilantro (basil would be better). Folded into olive oil-fried bread, this mixture made a lovely panzanella salad but could have easily become a bruschetta or simple grain or pasta salad.
Much to my delight, making this panzanella felt nothing like hard work. It was almost as though the salad assembled itself. Perhaps “hard work” is a state of mind. Hmm…deep thoughts.
These “magic” peppers can be served as is…
…or chopped and mixed with what you have on hand: tomatoes, pine nuts, capers, mozzarella, herbs, etc.
I added olive-oil fried bread, but farro would be nice (and healthier!) as would pasta.Print
“Magic” Peppers and Salad with Pine Nuts & Capers
- Total Time: 40 minutes
- Yield: 2 servings
Recipe for magic peppers adapted from Sally Schneider’s The Improvisational Cook
Notes: The only part of this recipe I suggest you following to a T (or mostly to a T) is the time (25 to 30 min) and temperature (450ºF). Otherwise, just toss the peppers — however many you have on hand — with oil to taste and season with salt and pepper to taste.
As noted above, the magic peppers can be used in countless ways from free-form tarts to pasta salads to bruschetta.
for the magic peppers:
- 2 lbs bell peppers (or other)
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- salt to taste
- fresh ground black pepper to taste
for the salad:
- 1 to 2 cups diced magic peppers
- 1 cup (or more) halved cherry tomatoes
- 6 oz. fresh mozzarella, diced to yield about 1 cup
- 1 tablespoon capers
- 1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted*
- roughly chopped basil or cilantro or whatever herbs you have on hand
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 tablespoon vinegar such as white balsamic, balsamic, red wine, etc.
- kosher salt and pepper to taste
- olive oil fried bread**
*Toast in a small skillet over medium-low heat checking frequently — they quickly turn from lightly golden to burnt.
**Toss 3/4-inch cubes of bread with olive oil, salt and pepper. Toast in a large skillet over medium-low heat until golden or in the oven at 400ºF for 10 minutes or so.
- Preheat the oven to 450ºF. Cut each pepper in half through the core. Remove seeds and stem. Cut each half into three or four pieces. Place strips in a large bowl, season with salt and pepper to taste. Drizzle with oil and toss to coat.
- Arrange peppers slices, cut-side up, on a large baking sheet. Roast for 25 to 30 minutes or until peppers are tender and slightly browned on the edges — thinner peppers will cook more quickly, so start checking at 25 minutes if not sooner.
- Serve warm or at room temperature or continue on and make the salad:
- Toss together the diced magic peppers, halved cherry tomatoes, mozzarella, capers, toasted pine nuts, herbs, olive oil, vinegar, salt and pepper to taste. Taste and adjust seasoning as necessary. Fold in bread. Toss again, taste, and adjust seasoning.
- Prep Time: 15 minutes
- Cook Time: 25 minutes
This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my disclosure policy.
28 Comments on ““Magic” Peppers Salad with Pine Nuts & Capers”
I am right there with you! Everything feels like a lot of work these past few weeks, and the Mr. and I have been eating a lot of pasta, tacos and stir fry. This panzanella looks incredible and we LOVE peppers. Pinning!
Thank God tacos never get old or feel like work 🙂
Well, that sorts out what I am making for supper tonight then!
🙂 🙂 🙂
I love easy meals. Especially those where you throw things together hoping it’s not going to end up with getting a take away – and instead you create a rip-roaring recipe to devour and remember. Love this recipe. Thank you for sharing. Sammie http://www.feastingisfun.com
So true, thanks, Sammie!
Another fabulous recipe! I truly appreciate your version of summer-cooking fatigue. My version involves not turning on the stove or oven! So many fresh and tasty market finds, and in the late summer heat I can’t bring myself to “cook” or “roast.” (So I turn to DH to grill!!) We often get tiny peppers well into early fall, so I am going to make these as soon as things cool down! 🙂
Ha, I know, me too! I guess with the exception of this recipe. Seriously, I have been cutting the peppers up and serving them raw with hummus. No one is upset. I just had SO many that I had to turn on the oven, but I wasn’t that happy about it. Glad you have DH to grill! Yes, keep this recipe in mind when you feel overloaded in the early fall. Hope you are well!
I’m confused. The recipe calls for magic peppers, and then cooks them again? Or is this a double recipe, one for magic peppers and then for the salad?
Sorry for the confusion — yes, a double recipe: steps 1-3 are just for making the “magic” peppers. You can stop there or you can chop up those magic peppers and mix them into a salad. Hope that helps!
I am pretty old fashioned. And maybe a bit computer illiterate. But is it possible to just PRINT this recipe? I don’t twitter, instagram or Pintrest. Can you help me?
It’s not you, Nancy, it’s me! I’m sorry. My recipe plugin stopped working and because I am also computer illiterate I haven’t been able to figure out a solution yet. I have a guy working on it…he said by tomorrow, so hopefully I can get this in print-friendly mode soon. I would just copy and paste it into a word doc or text doc if you want to print. Or I can email you a PDF. Let me know!
Just copy and paste the recipe into your emai and send to yourself
One more yummy thing to put on homemade tortillas! yay! Have a lovely weekend doll! XOX!
You, too, Laurie!! xo
This came along at the perfect time… fridge was looking very sad but I saw the peppers and remembered this post. A tray of ‘magic peppers’ later and I had a great salad! Quite different to yours (I used the farro which you suggested as an alternative to the bread, shavings of parmesan as I had no mozzarella and tossed in extra roast veg in the form of courgette) but the peppers shone through and the flavour profile was similar (capers, pine nuts, balsamic). Really delicious. Thank you for sharing!
Wonderful to hear this, Alex! I am going to try with farro when I get my next CSA…more peppers are on the way. Love the idea of eggplant, too. Yum!
Even without the mozzarella this was delicious. Thank you, Ali. Delicious with grilled chicken and a plain green salad.
Makes me so happy to read this, Martha! Love the idea of serving it with chicken. Yum.
Oh my goodness, how have I never made magic peppers? My husband and I ate them last night while the kids were out, with peppered goat cheese and thin slices of baguette, divine! Thank you!
Wonderful to hear this, Cath! Easy, too, right?
What an awesome yummy recipe! So many great flavors here – who doesn’t love some roasted veggies? And so easy too! I’ll have to try a gluten-free version sometime.
Can u make the magic peppers ahead and if so how long will they keep in the refrig
Yes! Store them for at least a week.
mouth watering recipes……… YOU ALWAYS SHARE THE BEST ………… THANK YOU. WILL BE MAKE SEVERAL OF THESE…………… AND KNOW THEY WILL BE A HUGE HIT.
Thank you, Louise 🙂 🙂 🙂 Means a lot.
Alex, I see in your example you used the mini peppers (your balsamic roasted mini peppers is goto for us, they even freeze well so they are always on hand). I like these small peppers and wondered if the timing you provide would be significantly different with regular sized red/yellow bell peppers or if this recipe was specifically meant for those great mini peppers.
Hi Denise! So glad you like the balsamic mini peppers. Here, in this particular time of shooting, I used a whole bunch of different-sized peppers from my farm share, some of which were on the small side. I think the timing here would work pretty well for those mini peppers, but you may just want to check 5 to 10 minutes earlier to make sure they aren’t browning too quickly.