Growing up, I knew only the green bell pepper. And I held it in no high regard. But when I turned twenty I discovered the red bell pepper which is exactly the same fruit except that it is kept on the plant until it is ripe. This causes it to develop more sugars and more of the vitamins that peppers produce in prodigal amounts - A & C. A single ripe red bell pepper has as much vitamin C as an orange.
Good as they are, it can take years to develop a repertoire of good ways to use them:
The traditional treatment of peppers - to stuff them with meat and bake them - is a good one. It produces a tasty and nutritious meal with a minimum of effort. And the meat or tofu stuffings can always be improved by adding interesting items. My favorite is pine nuts. Sauted veggies such as thinly sliced carrots, celery, and onion will also improve the stuffing. The meat I use is ground turkey which I spice with thyme, fennel, salt, and black pepper. Ground pork or beef would work just as well.
One can chop peppers and serve them in salads. Their sweet flavor and crispy texture will improve many salads, especially tuna salad with cannelini beans. But fair warning; it is easy to tire of peppers served raw. They posess an almost imperceptible soapy flavor that makes them seem unappetizing if one has eaten them raw too frequently. And once one is tired of them, it can take many months or years to be ready to welcome them again.
Peppers can also be roasted and peeled, then cooked into sauces or marinated for use in salads. Roasted, marinated peppers are no longer crisp, but they are sweeter and have lost the soapy quality. Roasted peppers are ideal blended into sauces. In fact, people who cannot have tomato sauce but can eat peppers may buy roasted peppers and puree them to make a marinara that substitutes well for any tomato sauce. Spice the sauce with parsley, fennel, basil, and oregano. And add ample sauteed garlic. The result will be at least as good as normal tomato sauce.
Copyright S.R. Brubaker 2002 - 2006.