As I get older, my cooking gets simpler. I find myself creating short cuts and innovations on recipes I created years ago, as a way to feed myself and friends more easily. Hankering for the flavors of smoky piquillo peppers I used to love in Spain, I did an extreme pared-down riff on Magic Peppers (Oven-Roasted Peppers With Many Flavors + Uses). In the new version, I quickly slice peppers into strips, toss them with garlicky olive oil and Pimenton de la Vera, sweet, smoky Spanish paprika and roast them hot until they caramelize and char. I often serve them as an appetizer with burrata and slabs of rustic bread. I make big batches for myself to eat as a vegetable or snack.
Slice off thick slabs of pepper flesh from stem to end around the core, leaving most of the white pith behind. Don’t worry how they look. I usually do 5 or 6 peppers at a time, to make about 3 cups cooked.
…Then a quickly slice the peppers into 1/4-inch-or-so strips with a chef’s knife…
Slice a couple of garlic cloves let them macerate in about 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil while you finish slicing the peppers…
Brush a large sheet pan with the oil, toss the peppers onto it, and use a brush or your hands to toss and coat the peppers with the garlic oil, tossing in the cut garlic cloves. Spoon 2 or 3 teaspoons of Pimenton de la Vera into a strainer and sift a fine dusting over the peppers, tossing them as you go. Then toss the peppers with salt. Shake the pan to settle the peppers evenly over it.
Roast the peppers in a HOT 450′ oven for 20 minutes or so, then toss them, moving the darkening peppers on the edges of the pan to the center. Cook them 10 to 15 minutes longer until they are caramelized, with just enough char to be delicious.
The peppers will cook down, losing at least half their volume, while concentrating their flavor. Six peppers will yield about 3 cups.
Toss them with a few drops of sherry vinegar brighten to lift the flavors.
The peppers are great eaten at room temperature, so you can make them hours ahead. You can warm them slightly before serving if you like.