Spaghetti di Ettore
This may be the first post I have written with peppers, or one of very few. My husband and I are both allergic, an allergy that I have never really minded, I’m not a huge fan of 90% of the ways that peppers are prepared in this world. In college the cafeteria staff put bell peppers in EVERYTHING, to add flavor, I am assuming, maybe vitamins, but because they weren’t roasted before being added they made the whole dish taste like bell peppers. I hated it, thought it was disgusting, and then I discovered how Italians cook peppers, roasting them, peeling them and then doing something else delicious with them.
I have been eying this recipe in the Food Maven’s Neapolitan cookbook for ages and had the opportunity to make them after buying peppers at the market, simply for their beauty. It was worth the chapped lips I had for days, and the rash on my husband’s chest, sometimes a little discomfort is worth a good meal.
Spaghetti di Ettore
adapted from Naples at Table, Cooking in Campania by Arthur Schwartz
- 2 red bell peppers
- 1 tbsp salted capers, thoroughly rinsed, coarsely chopped if large
- 1 or 2 large cloves garlic, finely chopped (or more to taste)
- ¼ cup finely chopped parsley
- freshly ground pepper
- 3 rounded tbsp fresh or dried bread crumbs
- 5 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
- 12 ounces spaghetti, linguine or bucatini
- 2 eggs
Roast, peel and clean the peppers, *see note following the recipe. Cut them into ¼-inch-wide, lengthwise strips.
In a small baking dish, combine the pepper strips, the capers, the garlic, and the parsley. Season with salt and freshly ground pepper. Sprinkle bread crumbs on top. Set aside until you are ready to finish the dish. This can be done as far ahead as the morning for the evening.
When ready to assemble the dish, put the water to boil for the pasta. Just before placing the pasta in the salted water, drizzle the pepper mixture with 2 tbsp of the olive oil, then place it in a preheated 350-degree oven for 10 minutes,
While the pasta is boiling and the peppers are baking, fry the eggs over medium heat, in 2 or 3 tbsp of olive oil, sunny-side up, until the whites are set and the yolks are still runny.
Drain the pasta and pour it into a large (preferable heated) serving bowl. Using 2 forks, toss in the baked peppers and the fried eggs, using some or all of the egg-cooking oil, too. As you toss, break the whites into pieces and let the yolks act as sauce – they will spread over the pasta and cook further from the heat of it.
Check for salt and pepper and serve immediately with or without grated Parmigiano or pecorino cheese.
*Roasting peppers over coals or a gas flame is ideal. I manage to balance them on the grates of my stove burners (wish I had stove burners). Keep them over a low flame; the peppers should be directly above the point of the flame, not in it. Turn them regularly with tongs, making sure to turn the bottom and top toward the flame. For most purposes the peppers should not become too soft. The point is to blister and char the skin and to tenderize the peppers, not to make them soft. (If you, like me, have electric burners, you can do this with a cast-iron skillet or a grill pan).
When the peppers are done on all sides, place them in a paper bag, plastic bag, or covered pot to steam until they cool. They will soften more.
Peel the peppers with a soft paring knife.
When you cut them open, catch any pepper liquid in a small bowl. Trim off the stem end, scrape out the seeds, and cut out the ribs.