Tag: grilled bell pepper

About Greece – and a Sandwich with Tzatziki and Grilled Bell Pepper

Tzatziki and Grilled Bell Pepper Sandwich

Eat in my kitchen is about food but also about the happiness, peace and pleasure I find in cooking and sharing the dishes I prepare in my kitchen. My recipes are influenced by my life, my friends and family and also by the countries I’ve visited in the past years, by the people I’ve met who were so kind to share their rich culture, traditions, recipes and stories with me. No matter where my travels took me, whenever I sat at table talking to the locals, the real journey started. Without an exception, I can say that all these people enjoyed sharing their food with me at their tables as much as I do at mine. Many years ago I visited a small Greek island in the Aegean Sea, the beautiful Naxos. I felt welcome from the moment I set foot on the ground and stayed with a lovely couple who gave me a delicious insight into Greek cooking besides creating an unforgettable holiday. This couple and their home island have been on my mind a lot recently, how they must feel in these rough times. It seems like it’s all about numbers at the moment, Greece’s failures and debt, and not enough about the people who go through the worst nightmare that none of us would ever want to go through. The worst case scenario of losing everything that you and your family have worked for, for many generations.

The people of Greece have always been an inspiration, not only for Europe and not only because they were the first to set up a democratic state. The keenest thinkers of the world have been influenced by the classic Greek philosophy and literature, science, inventions and arts. I don’t want to simplify Europe’s currant problem but I often miss compassion and respect in the ongoing discussions. Sunday’s decision demanded lots of strength from the Greek people, they raised their voice to question a system, not the democratic but the financial system. And that’s what democracy is about, to think, discuss and voice your own opinion. This is a gift!

I’m sure that most of us have a connection to this country in some way, one that is struggling and fighting at the moment. I feel thankful for all I’ve learned, so thankful that I can’t turn my back on all the people who don’t give up but stick together. And that’s what I wish for Europe, that we stay together and support each other so that the ones who are weak at times can get back on their feet again. I’m not a patriotic person in a national sense at all but I love Europe, its countries and cultural richness. This is my beloved home. I believe that we have to care for each other to keep this treasure, that’s the necessary basic foundation of a union, in a political but first and foremost in a human sense.

Tzatziki and Grilled Bell Pepper Sandwich

A Sandwich with Tzatziki and Grilled Bell Pepper

I will share two recipes for tzatziki with you, one made with quark and one made with yoghurt.

For 4 sandwiches you need

rustic white buns, cut in half, 4
flaky sea salt
black peppercorns, crushed in a mortar
fresh basil leaves 12

Spread the bottom side of each bun voluptuously with tzatziki, lay slices of grilled bell pepper on top (see recipes below) and sprinkle with a little sea salt, crushed pepper and basil leaves. Enjoy!

For the tzatziki

cucumber, preferably organic, roughly grated and squeezed between your hands, 80g / 3 ounces
(you’ll need about 60g / 2 ounces of squeezed cucumber)

Continue with version 1 or 2

Version 1 (I used this recipe in my photos)

low fat quark 250g / 9 ounces
heavy cream 2 tablespoons plus more to taste
garlic, crushed, 1-2 big cloves
salt and pepper

Version 2

Greek yoghurt 250g / 9 ounces
sour cream 4 heaped tablespoons
heavy cream 4 tablespoons plus more to taste
garlic, crushed, 1-2 big cloves
salt and pepper

Mix the cucumber with the ingredients of version 1 or 2, season with salt, pepper and garlic to taste, whip in more heavy cream if you prefer your tzatziki a little more smooth.

 

For the grilled bell peppers

red and yellow bell peppers 2-3
olive oil 1 tablespoon

Set the oven to grill.

Put the bell peppers in a baking dish and grill them in the oven until their skin turns black in small patches, turn them twice (it’s best to cook them on 3 sides). I grill them for about 10 minutes on the first side (depending on your oven it may need more or less), and for 6 minutes on the other 2 sides, so for about 22 minutes in all, but mind that this varies between different ovens. When the bell peppers are soft, take the tray out and cover them immediately with wet kitchen paper (this will help to peel them). Take out 1 bell pepper and peel carefully with a knife, mind that it’s very hot. Once it’s peeled, cut it in half, scrape out the seeds and fibres and cut it into strips. Continue with the remaining bell peppers. On a plate, mix the sliced bell peppers with olive oil.

Tzatziki and Grilled Bell Pepper Sandwich

 

Tzatziki and Grilled Bell Pepper Sandwich

 

Tzatziki and Grilled Bell Pepper Sandwich

 

grilledbellpeppertzatzikisandwich10

 

grilledbellpeppertzatzikisandwich7

Grilled Bell Pepper with Garlic and Thyme

Grilled Bell Pepper with Garlic and Thyme

When I see juicy strips of grilled bell pepper on an antipasti platter, colourful in red, orange and yellow, I can barely stop myself from eating all of them (which is unfortunate for my antipasti platter companion). I love this balanced taste of sweet and smokey, it’s addictive! There are many ways to do this, some prefer to grill the fruit cut in half, some say you should cook it whole in one piece. Peeling the skin off can be a bit fiddly but it’s manageable, there are many suggestions to make this part easier. The latest I heard was to put the grilled bell pepper in a plastic bag and shake it to get rid of the skin although I’ve never tried it myself.

This is how I grill and peel bell pepper, how I’ve done it for years and it works perfectly: I put the whole fruit in a baking dish under the grill, turning it as soon as one side gets dark (meaning partly black). When the skin is dark and burst all around, after about 25 minutes, I open the oven, take out the dish and lay a wet kitchen cloth or paper towel over the bell peppers to cover them completely. I wait just a few seconds as they should stay warm and moist for this process. Then, I take out one pepper after the other and pull the skin off with a knife. If you leave them to cool without the moisture it’s impossible to peel them without damaging the flesh.

Sometimes I grill a big batch of bell peppers, I cut them in thick strips and keep them covered in olive oil in the fridge for days. Apart from the fact that it is a convenient (and healthy) nibble, it’s perfect for an antipasti platter at one of our dinner parties, as a salad or to make sandwiches. This time I grilled only three peppers and marinated them in garlic infused olive oil and fresh thyme. They didn’t last very long!

Grilled Bell Pepper with Garlic and Thyme

Grilled Bell Pepper with Garlic and Thyme

For 2-4 people you need

bell peppers (red, orange or yellow) 3
olive oil 3 tablespoons
garlic, cut into thin slices, 1 big clove
thyme sprigs 8

In a sauce pan, warm up the olive oil and garlic for 3 minutes on a medium-low heat to infuse the oil, the garlic shouldn’t change colour.

Put the bell peppers in a baking dish under the grill and turn them as soon as one side gets dark and starts to burst. I turned them twice, after 10 minutes on each side, I cooked the third side for only 5 minutes. Take the baking dish out and cover with a wet kitchen cloth or paper towel immediately. Wait for 10 seconds, take out one pepper and peel it with a knife. Keep in mind that they are still hot, especially the inside! Cut the peeled fruit in half, take out the seeds and cut the bell pepper into strips.

Pour the olive oil over the bell peppers and sprinkle with the garlic and thyme sprigs (or just the leaves if the sprigs are hard and woody). You can season it with salt and pepper but I left it pure.

Grilled Bell Pepper with Garlic and Thyme

 

Grilled Bell Pepper with Garlic and Thyme

 

Grilled Bell Pepper with Garlic and Thyme

 

Grilled Bell Pepper with Garlic and Thyme