There’s so much to love about bell peppers. They turn a tub of hummus into a well-rounded snack. They char on the grill in no time at all. They can be stuffed to the rim and roasted till supple. Bell peppers manage to breathe life and color into all of our favorites, and we thank them for that.
For a bell pepper with a sweet-as-can-be disposition, look to the ruby-red variety. For a subtle and pleasantly bitter flavor, green is the pepper for you. And for something that falls in between, it’s all about the orange and the yellow.
Untouched bell peppers may come down with a cold crunch, but they also make for a comforting fall dish when cooked down until soft and sweet.
Settle into a big bowl of Creamy Red Pepper Soup with a dollop of mascarpone to start, but make sure to have a slice of ultra-crusty bread on hand for dipping benefits.
Now let’s talk hearty mains. Food Network Magazine’s Skillet Pork and Peppers (pictured above) and Broiled Chicken With Peppers rely on the oven for moist meat and a crispy façade.
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We’re teaming up with food and garden bloggers and our friends at HGTV Gardens to host Summer Fest 2012, a season-long garden party. In coming weeks, we’ll feature favorite garden-to-table recipes and tips to help you enjoy the bounty, whether you’re harvesting your own goodies or buying them fresh from the market. Today we’re exploring peppers.
Late summer means the arrival of sweet, colorful peppers. Ranging from green to red to yellow to orange and purple, they are refreshingly crunchy when raw and wonderfully tender when cooked. And, they pair particularly well with meat, whether grilled, tossed with pasta or stuffed.
If you plan on planting your very own pepper patch, be sure to check out HGTV Gardens for great tips like letting the pepper plants dry after each watering to avoid soil fungi. Before you get cooking, be sure to choose firm, richly colored peppers, avoiding those that are limp and shriveled. Store them in a refrigerator for up to one week.
If you’re in possession of a grill, look no further than Food Network Magazine’s Sausage-and-Pepper Skewers (pictured above) and Sunny’s Steak Fajitas With Chimichurri and Drunken Peppers. They’re definite crowd-pleasers. If you’re looking for a little challenge, try Bobby’s hearty Grilled Pizza With Hot Sausage, Grilled Peppers and Onions and Oregano Ricotta. Better yet, get your guests involved in the pizza-making process.
Get more pepper recipes from family and friends
Hot tips from Food Network Kitchens’ Katherine Alford:
Try roasting a pepper directly over a gas burner: Rest the pepper right on the burner grate, turn the heat to high and rotate it frequently with tongs until it’s charred (the pepper served with the Spinach and Feta Frittata from Food Network Magazine took just a few minutes). You can use your burner flame to heat tortillas and pita bread, too. If you don’t have a gas stove, just use your broiler.
Every week, Alex Guarnaschelli, host of Alex’s Day Off, shares with readers what she’s eating — whether it’s from the farmers’ market or fresh off the boat, she’ll have you craving everything from comfort food to seasonal produce.
Sometimes I like to enjoy the full blast of a chile pepper and sometimes I want a mellower version. Hot peppers can be tamed by removing the seeds and slicing the ribs off the interior flesh. Try not to learn this lesson the hard way if you can help it: Wear gloves to protect your hands when cleaning chiles of their ribs and seeds. If you’ve ever touched the chile and then touched your eyes, you know what I’m talking about.
On one end of the heat spectrum, habaneros and scotch bonnet peppers are two of the hottest varieties. They are small and appear in various hues of green, yellow or red. Because they are so spicy, I use them sparingly in their raw form. I also love to slice and cover them with olive oil — it’s like a bottle of spice that naps in my fridge until I need it. Cooking them can also offer that tamed flavor. Sometimes I marvel at how floral spicy peppers can be underneath all that heat. A few paper-thin slices can brighten (and spice up) a light butter sauce for grilled fish or a hot marinade for other vegetables, such as eggplant, or meat.
Jalapeno, serrano, bell and wax peppers »
Pay no attention to the many shelves of faux salsas (Blueberry-pineapple? Really?) and shove aside all those cans of low-fat, low-sodium, no-flavor refried beans.
For this week’s underappreciated ingredient, you will need to dig a bit deeper into your grocer’s Hispanic section. Your goal? Mexico’s gift to high-flavor cooking: chipotle peppers in adobo sauce.
Typically sold in 7-ounce cans, these not entirely attractive (truth is, they look a bit prune-like) peppers pack gobs of smoky, chocolatey, slightly sweet piquancy.
First, the basics. Chipotles are really just jalapeno peppers that have been dried and smoked. In the U.S., they most often are sold canned in adobo sauce, a smooth tomato-vinegar blend spiked with garlic, onion and various spices.
The result is that you essentially get two ingredients in each can: peppers and sauce. The peppers marinate in the adobo, taking on its sweet tang. Meanwhile, the sauce absorbs some of the peppers’ heat.
Find out what to do with chipotle peppers in adobo sauce »
- Chiles Rellenos in Tomato Broth from Food Network Magazine
We’re teaming up with other food and garden bloggers to host Summer Fest 2010, a season-long garden party. Each week we’ll feature favorite garden-to-table recipes and tips to help you enjoy the bounty, whether you’re harvesting your own goodies or buying them fresh from the market. To join in, check out awaytogarden.com.
Mild poblano peppers are the star of this Mexican food favorite, chiles rellenos. The peppers (look for darker colored poblanos for the richest flavor) are stuffed with cheese, dipped in egg and fried until the cheese is melted and the outside is crisp. They’re a fiesta on a plate, especially when paired with a fresh, tomato-based sauce like the Food Network Magazine version above.
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