Some people grow up with fragrant oranges piled in ceramic bowls on their kitchen countertops. Others have memories of reaching into canisters filled with yogurt-covered pretzels and oatmeal chocolate chip cookies. In chef Andrew Weissman’s San Antonio home, there was an abundance of red bell peppers. It was his family’s thing. He recalls evenings at the dinner table of his San Antonio home devouring the mildly sweet vegetable, roasted and drenched in olive oil and flecked with fresh garlic and thyme. And he still enjoys preparing them this way.
“I think it’s in my genes,” he says of his affinity for the peppers, which were also a staple on his grandmother’s kitchen table. One year, his mother gave him a case of red bell peppers for his birthday. He’s cooked with them at Signature, his revered San Antonio restaurant. And now his youngest son is following in his footsteps. “He’s a maniac about bell peppers,” Weissman says. “We eat them like apples.”
This vibrant crop emerges with the summer heat, and its versatility makes it a no-brainer grab for farmers’ market hauls. Bell peppers can be grilled, pureed, turned into soup, stuffed with ground beef and shredded Monterey Jack cheese, and snacked on raw. In this recipe, Weissman blisters the vegetable on the stove in a way that brings him back to those early evenings spent around the dinner table.
Crispy Salmon With Charred Summer Veggies
- 2 red bell peppers
- extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 sprig fresh rosemary
- 5 cloves garlic, divided
- 3 ears of corn
- salt and pepper (to taste)
- za’atar (optional)
- 8 ounces of labneh
- 3 artichokes, trimmed
- 4 salmon fillets (approximately 6 ounces each)
- Blister red peppers in oil in a large skillet over medium/high heat by turning them every 4 to 5 minutes until pleasingly blackened. Once they’re blistered, drop the peppers in a metal bowl and cover. When they’re cool enough to handle, peel peppers, slice them into fifths, then submerge them in extra-virgin olive oil with the fresh rosemary and 2 garlic cloves. Refrigerate. (This can be done a few days in advance.)
- Pull back corn husks and char corn in a large skillet over medium/high heat or on a grill. Shave corn into a bowl, tossing in a little salt, pepper, za’atar (a Middle Eastern spice blend), and extra-virgin olive oil.
- Grate remaining fresh garlic (plus more, if you’d like) into labneh and season with salt. Add enough garlic that you would feel uncomfortable getting close to a business associate after eating this. Mix to combine.
- Steam artichokes until tender. When cool enough to touch, peel away leaves. Remove the chokes from the hearts and quarter the hearts.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Season salmon generously with salt and pepper and place in a hot pan, skin side down. Placing a spatula on top to keep fish from rising up, brown the surfaces of the fillets for 1–2 minutes before finishing in oven. Bake until they reach your desired internal temperature—the FDA recommends at least 145 degrees—or for about 12–15 minutes.
- Dollop labneh onto a plate, making a bed with the combination of artichokes, charred corn, and peppers on top, then add a crispy fillet. Dust with a little more za’atar, if desired, and enjoy.