Peppers and . . . peppers (and some bugs)

A special treat at this time of year, and one which for me brings back flavours and scents from my childhood in Turkey, is being able to stuff these Kandil dolma peppers with spicy rice and cook them in tomato sauce.

I added chopped sweet onion, sultanas, pine nuts, garlic, oregano leaves, ground cumin, cinnamon and nutmeg to some cooked rice and stuffed the peppers, put the ‘lids’ back on and arranged them in a large cast-iron pan. I poured over a jar of last year’s tomato purée mixed half and half with water, brought it all to the boil and simmered for about 40 minutes.  They can be eaten hot, straight away, but on a hot day like today I think it’s best to let them cool and then serve with lemon juice squeezed over them. You can use any variety of peppers for this, but these Turkish ones have a special aroma that I remember from the backstreets of Istanbul where there would be huge vats of them for sale in open cafés and shops.

And more peppers….

Yesterday evening when Lo Jardinièr was lighting the barbecue for our supper in the garden I grilled some red peppers over the charcoal as it was heating up, just placing them whole on the rack and turning them with tongs over the heat until the skin was slightly blackened and the flesh was soft. then I peeled them and saved them until today when I put them in the food processor with a clove of garlic, a handful of parsley leaves, some salt, lemon juice and olive oil to make a purée which could be eaten as a dip or spread on toasts. Another wonderful way to take advantage of the numbers of peppers we’re picking now.

And those bugs . . .

Out in the garrigue near the village this morning I found several pairs of these Mediterranean striped shield beetles – Graphosoma semipunctatum – mating on a dried thistle plant, and what looks like a spider playing gooseberry!