Something magical happens to red peppers when they are filled with tomatoes, dressed with olive oil and slowly roasted. They soften on the inside, blacken on the outside and the sweet flavours mingle with whatever other flavourings you add to create the most delicious sauce. I think I could eat these mediterranean roasted peppers every day! Served with a green salad and some crusty gluten-free bread to mop up those yummy juices, and perhaps a lovely cold glass of crisp rosé to go with it, and I am in heaven!
“Veganising” Piedmontese Peppers
This recipe is actually a bastardised vegan version of Simon Hopkinson’s Piedmontese Peppers (roasted red peppers with tomatoes, anchovies and basil). I have an old copy of Simon Hopkinson's book “Roast Chicken and Other Stories” which I still love to this day (given to me years ago by my mother-in-law) and it is covered with little post-it notes sticking out of the pages with the most used recipes. There are so many delicious vegetable dishes that I still refer to it for inspiration even though the name of the book would put most vegans off!
The original recipe (first made famous by Elizabeth David and then served by Simon Hopkinson at the London restaurant, Bibendum) included anchovies on top of the peppers. So obviously, to make it vegan, I had to replace the flavour of the anchovies with something plant-based instead. I find the black olives work really well to give that salty flavour and it is a classic Mediterranean ingredient that suits the dish really well. For a little Middle Eastern twist (because I live in Qatar), I like to drizzle pomegranate molasses on top. I find the sweet sticky sauce adds a perfect little piquancy to the dish. If you wanted to go more authentic and stick to Italian flavours, you could use balsamic vinegar instead.
It is so ridiculously easy to make these Mediterranean roasted red peppers! You just halve the peppers and empty out the seeds, add some chopped garlic, olives and tomatoes, season with salt and pepper and pour over a glug of olive oil and a drizzle of pomegranate molasses. Then you pop it in the oven where it will slowly do its thing for ¾ hour until it's magically transformed into a delicious, juicy flavour bomb!
They of course make a fantastic vegetable side dish to serve alongside a selection of other dishes or you could serve them as the main course with a green salad and some good crusty bread (gluten-free!) to mop up the juices. These roasted red peppers would also go really well with my Herby Quinoa Salad or with some crispy tofu cubes and a lovely rocket salad.
I often have these roasted red peppers on toast as a quick working lunch at my desk because I can just prep them in 5 minutes and stick them in the oven to cook while I carry on working.
I have made this recipe countless times for dinner parties because it is so easy to prep and then you just leave it bubbling away in the oven while having drinks with your guests. To make ahead, I would get it ready up to the point where it goes in the oven but instead of putting it in the oven, just cover it up and put it in the fridge until you’re ready to cook it. It should wait a few hours without any problem.
This is a very simple recipe so you can’t go too far wrong with it. That said, there are a few pointers I can give you.
- Red, yellow or orange peppers are the best to use for this dish – the green ones will not give you the same sweetness that is essential to the dish. When slicing them, you need to slice the peppers in half through the root. You can choose whether to take the root off or leave it on. It looks nice presenting it with the roots on but I prefer taking it off as I don’t like having things on the plate that you can’t eat.
- As for the tomatoes, choose the juiciest, brightest ones you can find! You can either use cherry tomatoes (halved) or chopped up large tomatoes to stuff inside the peppers. The size doesn’t matter as long as they are flavourful.
- The black olives should be good quality, well flavoured ones but, at a push, the ready sliced ones will do – they just won’t be as tasty! You could even use green olives if you prefer but they give a different flavour profile. I prefer the black olive version.
- If you are in a rush, you could turn up the oven temperature and roast for 20 minutes instead but I find it doesn’t develop the same deep flavour nor soften in the same way.
Recipe Card 📖
Mediterranean Roasted Peppers
- 2 red peppers
- 2 tomatoes chopped into chunks (or 12 cherry tomatoes, halved)
- 2 garlic cloves sliced thinly
- 8 black olives pitted and sliced (or you can use black olive tapenade instead)
- 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tsp pomegranate molasses or balsamic vinegar
- salt and pepper
- a few flaked almonds (optional)
- fresh basil leaves to garnish
- Set the oven to 180°C/350°F.
- Cut the peppers in half vertically through the stem then pull out the seeds and cut out the stem. Lay the peppers flat (so that they look like cups) on a roasting tray or small casserole dish. Liberally season the insides with salt and pepper then distribute the sliced garlic inside the peppers. Add in the chopped tomato and sliced black olives on top of the garlic to fill each pepper. Pour the olive oil over the top and drizzle with pomegranate molasses on top. Put in the oven to roast for 40 mins.
- When they are ready, they should be soft and juicy and slightly blackened on the edges. Sprinkle over a few flaked almonds on top (if you like) and pop them back in the oven for a 5 more minutes for the almonds to toast a little.
- Take them out of the oven and garnish with basil leaves. Serve with spoonfuls of the delicious juices from the roasting tin poured over the top.
- The juices really make this dish so please don’t forget to spoon them over the peppers when serving!
- Use only red, orange or yellow peppers for this dish as they are sweeter than the green ones. For best results, use the best quality tomatoes and olives that you can find.
- Substitute with green olives if you prefer but it will give a different flavour profile.
You may also like these other delicious gluten-free and vegan red pepper recipes…
I’d love to know how you get on with this recipe. Let me know what you think in the comments section below and please give it a star rating too! Thank you!