Yesterday it rained in Bangkok. Not a gentle rain. A drenching, gray, blustery rain that rolled in on the tail of the gloomiest cloud I have ever seen. I forgot my umbrella at my office the day before, and downright sprinted in to work to beat the downpour.
As luck would have it, yesterday was also the day that both Frank and I had a long-planned-for work event that was to be held...you guessed it...outside. Typical.
Despite the rain earlier in the day, the event went off without a hitch, with 340 guests hopscotching between paths protected by tents and a covered patio. The dicey weather was an afterthought.
The heavy rains that fall on Bangkok this time of year are a certain inconvenience, but now in my second year here, I find myself welcoming the change. Everything turns green, ponds and canals fill, and for a few brief moments after the rain subsides, the weather feels almost cool. Almost.
Last year, right around this time, I got on a kick where I wanted everything I made to involve some variation on the flavors in this Pan Roasted Salmon and Bread Salad (still one of my favorite recipes). My obsession with the tart lemon kick of that salad coincided with my "discovery" of the gazillion uses for chickpeas, and this Lemon Chickpea Salad with Roasted Red Peppers became my salad of the summer.
This year, I'm back to craving those same flavors. Maybe it's the contrast they bring to the gloomy weather while still being so downright summery.
Lemon, red peppers, fresh herbs, capers...they just work this time of year.
Lentils with Roasted Red Peppers, Capers, and Lemon
For the Roasted, Marinated Red Peppers
- 3 large red peppers
- 1 clove garlic, finely minced
- 10 leaves fresh basil, thinly sliced
- extra virgin olive oil (you will need enough to cover the peppers, usually about ½ cup in the jars I've used)
For the Lentils
- 2 cups dry lentils
- 1 small red onion
- ¼ cup red wine vinegar
- ¾ cups chopped, marinated roasted red peppers (storebought or made using recipe below)
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 2 tablespoons capers, well drained
- 2 sprigs rosemary, finely chopped
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- salt and pepper, to taste
- 1 lemon
- For the red peppers, turn on the oven's broiler. Line a baking sheet with foil and lighly spray or brush it with olive oil. Slice the red peppers in half from top to bottom, discarding the stem and seeds. Place the red pepper halves, skins facing upwards, on the baking sheet. Place the baking sheet under the broil and broil the peppers until the skins are thoroughly blackened on the top. Remove the baking sheet and, using kitchen mitts to protect your hands, enclose the roasted peppers in the foil on which you've baked them, pinching the foil closed. (Alternatively, you can transfer the red peppers to a plastic bag for a few minutes. Wrapping them allows them to steam and will make peeling them a cinch.) Allow the enclosed peppers to rest at room temperature until cool enough to handle. When cool, gently remove the blackened peels and slice the peppers into 1inch strips.)
- In a small jar or bowl, layer the pepper slices, sliced basil, and garlic so that they are tightly packed. Drizzle olive oil intermitently between the layers and cover the final layer of peppers with about ¼ inch of oil. Store, covered, in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.
- Place the lentils in a pot and fill with water to cover by at least 2 inches. Put the pot over high heat and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook until the lentils are tender, about 25 minutes.
- Meanwhile, cut the onions into very thin slices and combine with the red wine vinegar. Let the onions soak in the vinegar, stirring occasionally, until the onions soften, about 10 minutes. Drain the vinegar.
- When the lentils are tender, drain them well and, while still hot, pour them over the onions. Stir to combine and leave at room temperature to cool. When the lentils have cooled slightly, add the marinated red peppers, garlic, capers, rosemary, olive oil, and salt and pepper. Stir to combine. Serve immediately or chill until ready to serve (bring to room temperature before serving). Just before serving, cut the lemon into wedges and squeeze the juice liberally over the salad.