Roasted Peppers

Doesn’t everyone love roasted peppers??

Simple and delicious, the secret to perfect roasted peppers is as easy as this:

  1. Coat red and yellow peppers with oil and roast in a very hot oven until black and blistered, turning as needed. You could also grill them or even sit them right on the open flame of your stove.
  2. Place them in a bowl and cover with plastic wrap. The steam of the peppers will loosen the charred skin making them easier to peel.
  3. Once cool enough to handle, peel the peppers, remove the stems, scrape out the seeds and slice the peppers as desired.
  4. Now you can season the peppers with salt, pepper, garlic, basil or whatever makes your taste buds go kerflooey.


No-Knead Pizza Dough

Adapted from Jim Lahey, Co.

Makes four 12-inch pizza crusts

3 cups all-purpose or bread flour, more for dusting
1/4 teaspoon instant yeast
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 cups water

  1. In a large bowl, mix the flour with the yeast and salt. Add the water and stir until blended (the dough will be very sticky). Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let rise for 12 to 24 hours in a warm spot.
  2. Place the dough on a lightly floured work surface and lightly sprinkle the top with flour. Fold the dough over on itself once or twice, cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rest for 15 minutes.
  3. Divide the dough into 4 pieces and shape each piece into a ball. Generously sprinkle a clean cotton towel with flour and cover the dough balls with it. Let the dough rise for 2 hours.

Heirloom Caprese #2

Last month I showcased a gorgeous Caprese Salad with Burrata cheese. Sliced and simply dressed with extra-virgin olive oil, fresh basil, salt and pepper, it was the perfect salad for a summer pool party.

This month, I roughly chopped super-ripe heirloom tomatoes and tossed them with fresh mozzarella. I seasoned the salad with oregano, salt and pepper, then finished it with a julienne of basil and a drizzle of aged balsamic vinegar.


© Giovanni Cucullo 2010 / 2011

Eggplant Caponata

Whenever I cook, I often reach for my cookbooks and scan them for ideas. I look at several versions of the same recipe and then approach it in my way. It’s very rare that I will follow someone else’s recipe exactly.

Last weekend, I was at a friend’s house on the Jersey shore and decided to replicate Mario Batali’s Caponata.


  • 1/2 cup virgin olive oil
  • 1 large Spanish onion, chopped in 1/2-inch dice
  • 3 tablespoons pine nuts
  • 3 tablespoons currants
  • 1 tablespoon hot chili flakes, plus extra for garnish
  • 2 medium eggplant, cut into 1/2-inch cubes (to yield 4 cups)
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves or 1/2 teaspoon
  • 1/4 cup basic tomato sauce, recipe follows
  • 1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 5 sprigs mint, chopped
  • 1 baguette, sliced into 3/4-inch rounds and toasted on grill or in oven



In a large 12 to 14-inch sauté pan, over medium heat, heat the olive oil until hot but not smoking. Add the onions, pine nuts, currants and chili flakes and sauté for 4 to 5 minutes until softened

Add the eggplant, sugar, cinnamon, and cocoa and continue to cook for 5 more minutes. Add the thyme, tomato sauce, and balsamic vinegar. Bring the mixture to a boil.

Lower the heat and simmer the mixture for 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and allow to cool to room temperature, garnish with mint and chili flakes. Serve the caponata spooned on crostini or in middle of table with crostini on side to allow guests to help themselves.

Basic tomato sauce:

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 Spanish onion, 1/4-inch dice
4 garlic cloves, peeled and thinly sliced
3 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme leaves, or 1 tablespoon dried
1/2 medium carrot, finely grated
2 (28-ounce) cans peeled whole tomatoes, crushed by hand and juices reserved

In a 3-quart saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook until soft and light golden brown, about 8 to 10 minutes. Add the thyme and carrot and cook 5 minutes more, until the carrot is quite soft. Add the tomatoes and juice and bring to a boil, stirring often. Lower the heat and simmer for 30 minutes until as thick as hot cereal. Season with salt and serve. This sauce holds 1 week in the refrigerator or up to 6 months in the freezer.

Yield: 4 cups

Golden Tomato Gazpacho

One of my favorite ways to say goodbye to summer is to make a refreshingly sweet and tart Golden Tomato Gazpacho. With very little effort you can dazzle your friends by letting the seasons final bounty strut its stuff.


  • 8 large yellow tomatoes
  • 2 large yellow peppers
  • 1 small yellow watermelon
  • 2 cucumbers
  • 1 small red onion
  • 1 medium garlic clove
  • 3 cups sherry vinegar
  • Juice of 3 limes
  • 1 cup sugar
  • Salt and pepper
  1. Cut all the vegetables and melon into a medium dice and toss with salt, pepper, sugar, lime juice and sherry vinegar.
  2. Refrigerate and let marinate for 2 – 4 hours.
  3. Puree the mixture using a blender or hand-held burr mixer.
  4. Adjust seasoning to taste and serve in chilled bowls.


As you can see in the photo, I served the Gazpacho in shot glasses and topped it with a piece of jumbo lump crab meat, micro arugula and finished it with extra virgin olive oil.


© Giovanni Cucullo 2010