There are few side dishes that are as intensely colorful and beautiful as a platter of roasted red bell peppers and asparagus. The flavors and textures are very distinct and complementary. They don't need much in the way of dressing; I usually only add a little lemon, pickled red onion and sea salt after drizzling them with olive oil and roasting them in the oven.
It's a great party platter because you can prepare it in advance. I usually roast the vegetables several hours before we have guests over, and then dress them right before serving. You could also serve the veggies straight out of the oven if you'd like them warm. Either way, this simple yet elegant dish is a perfect way to begin a dinner party. Enjoy!
Servings: 8 servings
3 red bell peppers
1 pound asparagus
1/3 cup olive oil
1 tablespoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon black pepper
½ red onion
2 teaspoons brown sugar
1 clove garlic (optional), peeled, crushed and finely minced
1 tablespoon flat-leaf parsley leaves
For the lemon: Zest and squeeze the lemon. Finely minced the zest. Reserve the juice.
Pickling the red onion: Peel and thinly slice the red onion; mince finely. Place the sliced onion and garlic in a bowl, sprinkle with brown sugar and drizzle with the juice of half of the lemon. Toss well. Set aside.
Roasting red bell peppers in the oven: Preheat your oven to 450°F. Spread the peppers evenly on a cookie sheet, in a single layer. Roast the peppers for about 4-5 minutes until the skins blister and darken. Watch carefully so they don't burn. Wrap each pepper in aluminum foil. Let cool for about 5-10 minutes until you can handle them without discomfort. Clean and remove the skin from the peppers using a knife (or under running water); the skin will come right off. Seed them and thinly slice the flesh.
Roasting the asparagus: Preheat your oven to 400°F. Trim about 2 inches from the root, depending on how young they are. Line a baking pan with a sheet of parchment paper or aluminum foil. Brush with olive oil. Spread the asparagus on the baking pan. Drizzle with more olive oil to coat the asparagus. Toss well. Season with kosher salt and pepper. Roast for about 20-25 minutes. Toss half-way through the cooking process for even roasting. Remove from the pan. Cut the asparagus into about 2-½" pieces. Drizzle with the rest of the lemon juice.
For the Dijon champagne vinaigrette (optional): The recipe is the same as the one used for my savory goat cheese panna cotta with beluga lentil relish. I serve it on the side as some people prefer the dish as is.
Assembly time: In a serving bowl, combine the roasted asparagus, red bell peppers, pickled onion. and parsley. Adjust seasoning. Sprinkle with lemon zest.
Garnish with more parsley. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Accompany with grilled meat, oven roasted potatoes and of course, a little butter .
Another great method is grilling the vegetables on a barbecue or on the stove. Roasting both vegetables in the oven seems to be the quickest way.
You can use any other vegetables that are in season, such as eggplant, squash or zucchini.
You can also sprinkle a little parmesan for a salty note.