Camille’s Cooking: Love in a dish of peppers

As Easter Sunday approaches, many of us are planning a family dinner to celebrate the holiday. A refreshing start to your appetizer course is roasted red peppers. This is especially one of my favorite recipes because my middle son, Nicky, adores roasted red peppers.

There are few things that can compare to the mystery and beauty of an individual with autism. My son Nicky is nonverbal. He and I have never had a conversation, nor do I actually know what his exact thoughts entail.

Yet, the connection of love and emotions that bind my son and me together is starkly calming and beautiful. Even though he cannot tell me about his world, I certainly know his world, and I believe that I am accurate in what is important to him, what he loves, what he enjoys, and what he values.

On the lighter side of life as a mom of a child with autism, the love of food has always been something that Nicky and I share together. If one were to ask me what my son loves to eat and what I believe he favors most among my cooking and recipes, I could begin a very informative list.

But throughout Nicky’s entire life, from early childhood, he has always loved foods that are bright red in color. I often thought that this might have something to do with his autism, which involves some sensory issues. He loves to eat sweet, rosy apples; bright, firm tomatoes; spaghetti with succulent red sauce; and his greatest and most favorite food is roasted red peppers.

This recipe was taught to me by my mother and aunts, and it is served at many fine Italian restaurants. I have such a distinct feeling of pleasure when Nicky enjoys fresh roasted red peppers. The flavor is outstanding, and they are healthy. In addition, this truly says to me that it really can be one happy and meaningful life as long as we learn to deal with what life chooses to hand us.


8 large red peppers
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 tablespoon chopped anchovy fillets, plus oil from the jar or can
2 tablespoons capers
2 tablespoons sliced black olives
Kosher salt, to taste

Remove core and seeds completely from the peppers. Rinse out the inside, and shake out any lingering seeds. Leaving peppers whole, place on a baking dish or pan and roast in a preheated oven at 400°F. Turn occasionally, until skin is blackened and blistered.

Transfer peppers to a large bowl, sealing the bowl tightly with plastic wrap, for 30 minutes. The blackened skin will loosen from the pepper. Gently peel off the blackened skin. If bits of black remain, that is fine.

Cut each pepper into strips. Gently toss the peppers with the olive oil, garlic, anchovy fillets, capers, olives, anchovy oil, and salt. Serve roasted peppers with aged chunks of Auricchio Provolone, cured olives and crusty bread.

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