Composition: arrangement, disposition, layout; proportions, balance, symmetry. Technically the definition of composition relating to a painting, but sometimes dinner is much like art. What I often attempt with many of the ingredients in our weekly share is to pre-prepare and then compose. This week’s share is perfect for this approach. There are so many tasty items that are perfect for roasting: cippolini onions, peppers, tomatoes, even the summer squash, and that is exactly what I am doing this quiet Sunday afternoon. The oven is on, it only makes sense to roast everything in one session (probably a few rounds of roasting) and then I will have them ready for future meals. In this case, today’s preparation of roasting vegetables will become tomorrow’s composition of lasagne. Whether I end up making the lasagne or not, I will have exquisitely delicious items ready for me to quickly turn into fabulous dishes.
I start with the Lunchbox Peppers, giving them a quick wash. I put them on a parchment paper lined baking tray, and pop them into a hot oven, set to 500 F. In 20 minutes they are done. You can do this with the Gypsy peppers but they will probably take a bit longer to roast and you will want to check them after 10 minutes and probably turn them at that point. As soon as you pull them from the oven put them into a bowl and cover tightly with foil or cling film to let them steam about 30 minutes. This makes it easier to remove the skin. I most often completely forget this part and make a ridiculous attempt at peeling and invariably give up. Not the worst thing in the world, especially with all of the Lunchbox Peppers, their skins are thin and not particularly tough. Now that they are cool enough to handle you can remove the peel, the stems and the few seeds and they are ready to use. You can save them in good oil for a couple of weeks as long as they are fully covered, you can also freeze them to enjoy in the winter when peppers are no longer in season. I am using these in tomorrow’s lasagne.
I only need one rack for the peppers, so while they get their start, I work on peeling cippolini onions. I cut them in half vertically, put them into a roasting pan, drizzle a bit of good Olive Oil over them, then pop them into the oven. Once they get a bit of color to them, I flip them over. The onions cook until they are completely soft but not particularly colored, I could cook them to more of a caramelized point, but I want to keep them less cooked so I choose later how I want to use them. As soon as the onions are in the oven, I work on washing and coring the tomatoes. Since there aren’t that many, I use a nice round pan and put them into the hot oven right after I take the Lunchbox Peppers out. 1 lb of tomato gives about 8 oz oz in weight and volume after roasting. With these simple ingredients you can quickly make a soup, or side dish. The peppers, onions, and tomatoes with a touch of light vinegar, some salt and pepper would make a great little very flavorful side to many meals. You can also freeze the peppers and the tomatoes to enjoy in the middle of winter. Not quite sure how the onions would do after freezing. If anyone knows please let me know!