Sunday, August 4, 2013

Roasted Red Pepper and Capers Salad

Italian red pepper salad

I'm going to let you in on a little secret. My life is not 100% organic. Nor is it 100% chilled-out-mellow, though I do aspire to reduce my stress levels via regular exercise, yoga, tea and dark chocolate. (Especially tea. And dark chocolate.) To me, living a sustainable life is about living in a way that's sustainable - and not just in terms of the environment. It has to be an approach - a process - to living that I can maintain - changes that I can keep up with no matter how tired I am or where I am in the world.  

Things I can sustain, that make me a better, healthier person.

So no, I don't always eat organic food.
I try, and that's what we should all aspire to, as it's better for our bodies and for the environment. But non-organic broccoli or red peppers or cherries are far from evil. They're not the ideal, but we don't live in an ideal world, do we? We live in a world where sometimes the difference in price between organic and non-organic seems worth it - and other times we just really want some mangoes, dammit, so who cares? We live in a world where stuff gets shipped from across the planet - even organic stuff - so we have to decide not just what looks appealing, or how it's been grown, or what we can afford, but whether or not its local or even regional.

Shit. That's a lot of thinking, for one apple. 

So here's my thinking process:
  1. Is it contribute to a healthy, varied diet? Yes? Continue.
  2. Is it fresh? Yes? Continue.
  3. Is it in-season (here, not Bolivia) and/or reasonably local? Yes? Continue.
  4. Is it organic? Yes? Woo hoo!!
At stages 1-2, a 'no' means I put it back down. At stages 3-4, a 'no' means I'll think a little more about it ... I'll consider how much I really, really want eggplant today or what the price difference is between organic and non-organic. I'm often willing to pay almost double for organic, but it depends on how they look and how leafy they are. (I almost always go organic on leafy stuff).

The fact is, I make my choices there while I'm looking at the produce, rather than in advance. I have my ideals, but I also need to keep it real.

All in all, this is a really long-winded way of saying - do your best. It's ok.
Have some salad.
Amanda xx

roasted red pepper salad

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Roasted Red Pepper and Capers Salad
adapted from one of my fave Italian cookbooks, Italian Country Cooking
serves 6

Red peppers - here in Australia, known as red capsicums. They burst with flavour, colour, crispness and vitamin C, and sometimes (let's be honest) they burst the bank, too. One of our local fruit and veggie vendors sells 4-packs of use-now red peppers for less than $2, and even though they aren't organic I just can't resist them. They're in perfect condition, save a blemish or two, and I can roast them up the same day, tuck them in olive oil in the fridge, and use them when I need them over the next week or two. This is my current favourite recipe, simple but versatile. Eat on its own, with flatbreads or bread, use as a topping for pizza. 

The time
15-20 min roasting + 10 min prep

The ingredients
4 red (or yellow) peppers/capsicums
1-2 large tomatoes, minced
1 clove garlic, minced or grated
a handful of torn basil leaves and/or flowers
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 Tbs capers, rinsed
a squeeze of fresh lemon juice (optional)
sea salt, to taste

salads for BBQ

The process
1. Remove the seeds and stems from the peppers and roast them at 200C (400F) until they're cooked and start to char. Set them aside to cool. Meanwhile, mix all the other ingredients (except for the lemon juice) in a large bowl.

2. Peel the skins off the roasted peppers and chop them into thin, long strips (or however you like, really). Add them to the rest of the salad and mix well. Serve at room temperature or cold, and drizzle lemon juice over the salad just before serving, to cut through the oil right at the end.

The cost
Well, I've already told you I didn't do this one totally organic - though the non-pepper parts of the salad were. All in all, this cost me $4 to make.

6 comments:

Emma Galloway said... [Reply to comment]

Love this post. This is exactly how I tackle life too. I laughed out loud when I read "Shit. That's a lot of thinking, for one apple." Been there so many times before! xx

Hannah said... [Reply to comment]

This is so refreshing to hear, yay! I am also willing to pay loads more for certain organic foods - but it's hard to resist buying seasonal produce when it's sooo cheap (like red capsicums right now!)

Kitchen Vignettes said... [Reply to comment]

This looks exquisite, LOVE capers, LOVE roasted pepper = yum and making it!

Lauren said... [Reply to comment]

It's so good to hear that, Amanda. A reality check for everyone. I think there is a lot of dishonesty out there in terms of the lives people portray through what they post on their blogs. Yes, it would be great to be 100% organic and spend the day in a blissed out state of pure, unadulterated goodness. But it's just.not.possible. all the time. Good on you for keeping it real!

Amanda Niehaus said... [Reply to comment]

This post is generating such a great response - I'm glad I (finally) wrote it! You know, the older I get, the more I appreciate authenticity in all aspects of my life. Thanks for helping me keep it real around here ;)

I hope you enjoy the salad xx

thoroughlynourishedlife.com said... [Reply to comment]

A great post. There are so many messages bombarding us, commanding us to do better, eat cleaner, work harder at being perfect in our diet and lifestyle choices. But at the end of the day, all we can aspire to do is make mostly the best choices, and then not sweat the others.
Also, oh yum, this capsicum salad looks delicious.

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Thanks for commenting! Amandaxx

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