One summer night we were dining at the late, lamented Cesare’s Cafe here in Trenton.
We’d placed our order and were relaxing with our drinks and enjoying small talk when, out of the kitchen, came Cesare himself. He was carrying a sizzling platter of sauteed mushrooms and hot peppers. “From the garden!” He said, as he placed the platter on our table.
Every table in the dining room got one of those platters that night. That’s the way Cesare was. It was that touch of “home.” Like having dinner at your grandparents house in the ‘Burg. It’s what made the place a favorite and why we miss is it so.
I’m a huge fan of mushrooms. And peppers. Especially hot peppers. The idea of cooking them up together is not foreign to me. They make a nice side/topping for a sizzling steak or some roasted chicken.
Cesare’s, unfortunately, is long gone. You can find this dish on the menu at Rossi‘s…perhaps the “old ‘Burg’s” remaining hold out.
Or you can make it at home.
Right now, while the local peppers are in abundance in backyard gardens and farmers’ markets, is the time to do it.
So simple. So good.
Mushrooms and Peppers
- 10 ounce package of fresh mushrooms, preferably brown (crimini, baby bellas) but white will do. Wipe them clean but leave whole, only removing the hardest ends of the stems.
- 4 to 8 fresh, locally grown hot peppers (pick your favorite or go with what is available from your garden or the market), cut into 1 inch pieces or left whole; stemmed; seeded if you want/need to control the heat.
- 4 cloves of garlic. Three peeled and whole, one peeled and minced.
- 1/2 cup olive oil plus more for “drizzling” if needed
- several slices of good bread for dipping and sopping.
In a 10 inch skillet, warm the 1/2 cup of olive oil and whole cloves of garlic over medium/medium-high heat. Let the garlic color (and flavor the oil) but do not let it burn! (about 5 minutes)
Remove the garlic and add the peppers. If the peppers are of medium to thin walled (banana or cayenne types), cook for two minutes. If thicker, cook just until they start to color and soften.
Add the minced garlic.
Add the mushrooms and stir. Sprinkle lightly with salt and some fresh cracked pepper. Stir to mix well.
Cook until mushrooms and peppers have softened but don’t let them become mush (3 to 4 minutes). Stir as needed.
Remove from heat, place in platter to serve. Drizzle with a little more olive oil if needed.
Serve with bread for sopping.
Serves 2 as an appetizer, 1 as a light lunch.