PEPPERS

Capsicum annuum

Peppers belong to the Solanaceae family, along with many other familiar vegetables like tomatoes, potatoes, eggplant, and tomatillos.  Peppers can be used in a variety of ways:  eaten raw as a snack with or without dip, diced in salads, cut up as a topping on pizza, or added to soups, stews, omelets, quiches, casseroles, and stir-fries.  Peppers can be easily stored unwashed in the refrigerator for 1-2 weeks.  For longer storage, you can simply wash, dry, and cut into desired size and place into a zip-lock freezer bag or other airtight container and freeze.

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Cascadilla (a chilled, creamy tomato soup)
From The Moosewood Cookbook

15 minutes to prepare (it needs, also, to chill.)  Makes 4-6 servings.

1 chopped cucumber
1 chopped scallion
1 clove crushed garlic
1 tsp. honey
½ tsp. dill weed
Salt and pepper
4 cups tomato juice
1 cup yogurt (and/or sour cream)
1 or more chopped bell pepper
Several fresh raw mushrooms, thinly-sliced

Combine and chill….serve with croutons….garnish with watercress.

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Ratatouille (Mediterranean vegetable stew)
From The Moosewood Cookbook

About 35-40 minutes to prepare and simmer.  Serves 4-6.

1 medium onion (fist-size), chopped
2 medium bell peppers, in strips or cubes
2 small or 1 medium zucchini, cubed (or another summer squash, or a combination)
1 small eggplant, cubed
4 cloves crushed garlic
2 medium tomatoes, in chunks
1 bay leaf
1 tsp. basil
1 tsp. marjoram
½ tsp. oregano
Dash of ground rosemary
3 Tbs. burgundy (or dry, red wine of your choice)
½ cup tomato juice
2 Tbs. tomato paste
2 tsp. salt (approximately)
Black pepper to taste
¼ cup olive oil
Freshly-chopped parsley

Heat olive oil in large, heavy cooking pot.  Crush the garlic into the oil.  Add bay leaf and onion; salt lightly.  Saute over medium heat until onion begins to turn transparent.  Add eggplant, wine and tomato juice.  Add herbs.  Stir to mix well, then cover and simmer 10-15 minutes over low heat.  When eggplant is tender enough to be easily pricked by a fork, add zucchini and peppers.  Cover and simmer 10 minutes.  Add salt and pepper, tomatoes and tomato paste.  Mix well.  Continue to stew until all vegetables are tender.  (How tender is tender?  Do a taste test and decide what seems right to you.)

Just before serving, mix in the fresh parsley.

Serve on a bed of rice, or in a bowl, accompanied by some good French bread.  Top with grated cheese and chopped black olives.

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Italian Stuffed Peppers
For when you have larger peppers that beg to be stuffed!
From From Asparagus to Zucchini

1 Tbs. olive oil
3 Tbs. chopped onion
2 tsp. minced garlic
½ pound bulk Italian sausage
1 Tbs. tomato paste
1 cup tomato sauce
2 Tbs. chopped fresh parsley
1 tsp. dried basil
1 tsp. dried oregano
Salt and pepper to taste
3 cups cooked white or brown rice
1 egg
8 short, squat sweet peppers
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Heat olive oil in skillet; add onions and sauté until opaque.  Add garlic; sauté 30 seconds.  Add and brown sausage.  Stir in tomato paste, tomato sauce, parsley, basil, oregano, and salt and pepper.  Cook about 8 minutes.  Stir in rice.  Beat egg and stir into rice mix.  Slice off tops of peppers; remove seeds and cut away membranes.  Fill with sausage and rice stuffing.  Heat oven to 350ºF.  Place peppers in baking dish and add enough hot water to come ½ inch up the peppers.  Cover with foil and bake 20 minutes.  Uncover, sprinkle with grated cheese, and bake another 15 minutes.  Makes 8 servings.

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