Region: Spain, Murcia
As one travels south along the Costa del Azahar, leaving Valencia and entering Murcia, rice paddies are replaced by orange orchards and huertas, irrigated vegetable fields. This salad could come into existence only well after the introduction of tomatoes and bell peppers from the New World. Today, bell peppers are extremely popular in the Murcia region. In the post-Columbian era of the Middle Ages, Murcians ate these simple vegetables along with several kinds of breads. They ate bizcocho, hardtack, which was cooked twice and could be preserved for a long time. They also ate barley or wheat bread, perhaps a mixture of both with rye. They also ate a lot of meat, both wild and domestic. Mutton was the most frequently eaten meat, though it was the most expensive, and the most taxed.
For this salad you need first to roast the peppers in a baking pan with a little water in an oven preheated to 425 degrees F. to 450 degrees F. until the skins blister black and are easy to peel off, 30 to 40 minutes.
Yield: Makes 4 servings
Preparation Time: 1:30 hours
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 1/2 pounds ripe tomatoes, peeled, seeded and diced
1 1/2 pounds red bell peppers, roasted, peeled, seeded, and quartered
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground cumin seeds
1. In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat, then cook the garlic for 30 seconds, stirring constantly so it doesn't burn. Add the tomatoes and cook until their juices evaporate, about 15 minutes.
2. Reduce the heat to low, add the red bell peppers and simmer over low heat until soft, about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Season with salt, pepper, and cumin. Serve at room temperature.