Cooking is all about making decisions. Sometimes you have to decide if you are going to have great looks or great flavor. Of course, I try to have both, but if it is ever a question of giving up one or the other, I always go for the best flavor. In this dish, for example, lightly cooked peppers would look brighter, but I prefer the flavor of peppers that have simmered until they begin to break down. So, I cook them longer for better flavor. Choosing two different color peppers helps make up for what little we lose in appearance by cooking the peppers fully.
Fresh herb sprigs serve as more than decoration. The heat from the dish releases the aroma and adds to the enjoyment.
- ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
- 8 garlic cloves, peeled
- 1 each: medium red and yellow bell pepper, cored, seeded and sliced ½-inch (about 1 ½ cups total)
- 2 cups assorted trimmed and thinly sliced mushrooms, such as shiitake, crimini and/or button
- 2 tablespoons butter
- Freshly ground pepper
- Veal, Chicken, Turkey or Pork Scallopine for four
- All-purpose flour
- One 28-ounce can Italian plum tomatoes (preferably San Marzano), cored and crushed (about 3 cups)
- ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper
- 6 fresh basil leaves, torn into quarters, plus basil sprigs for decorating the plates, if you like
Heat 3 tablespoons of the olive oil in a heavy, wide skillet over medium heat. Whack 3 of the garlic cloves with the flat side of a knife and toss them into the pan. Cook, shaking the pan, until golden, about 2 minutes. Stir in the mushrooms and peppers, season them lightly with salt and pepper and cook, stirring, until the peppers are softened, about 8 minutes.
Meanwhile, heat 3 tablespoons of the remaining olive oil and the butter in a large, heavy skillet. Whack 3 of the garlic cloves with the flat side of a knife and add them to the pan. Cook, shaking the pan, until golden, about 2 minutes. While the garlic is browning, dredge the scallopine in flour to lightly coat both sides, tap off the excess and add as many scallopine to the pan as fit in a single layer. Cook until golden brown on the underside, about 3 minutes. Flip and cook until the second side is lightly browned, about 2 minutes. Repeat with the remaining scallopine.
Pour off the fat from the scallopine pan and pour in the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil. Whack the remaining 2 garlic cloves with the flat side of a knife and toss them into the pan. Cook, shaking the pan, until golden, about 2 minutes. Stir in the tomatoes and crushed red pepper and season lightly with salt. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat so the sauce is simmering. Cook, stirring occasionally, until lightly thickened, about 10 minutes. Scrape the mushrooms and peppers into the tomato sauce and bring to a simmer. Cook until the peppers are tender but not mushy, about 3 minutes. Stir in the basil, then tuck the scallopine into the sauce. Simmer until the scallopine is heated through and the sauce is lightly thickened, about 2 minutes.
Taste and season with salt and additional crushed red pepper if you like.