What to cook with your sweet pepper bonanza


by Owl's Nest Market CSA member Denise Graveline

Those colorful cartons of sweet peppers at the Owl's Nest Farm stand at Petworth Community Market, or in your CSA share, look tempting--but may have you stumped about how to use them. The good news: There are many preparations to work sweet peppers into your menu.

And you can expect an entirely different flavor from these peppers, says New York Times food writer Martha Rose Shulman in Cook a Peck of Peppers: "They’re piled high at mine, all different colors, mostly sweet ones but hotter chiles as well. They are a treat, and if you’re used to supermarket peppers, the intensity of the farmers’ market peppers will be a revelation. Supermarket peppers are pretty, yes, but they’re fleshy and dull. Those firm, thin-fleshed peppers my local farmers grow are intensely sweet if they’re red, orange or yellow, and wonderfully grassy if they’re green. When you roast them, they sweeten even more..."

Now's the time to stock up so you can try these recipes this month, or preserve the peppers for use later in the winter.

For now:

For later:

  • Pickle: Your sandwiches, cheese tray, or snack plate will thank you if you pickle some peppers now for use later on. This recipe for whole pickled snacking peppers is a simple fridge pickling recipe--no canning or hot water processing--and you can use it with whole peppers (tops cut off), strips, or rings. I'm using the smallest of the sweet peppers to pickle whole, and the larger ones get cut into strips.
  • Roast: The peppers can be cored and left whole or cut into strips before roasting, can be stored with a coating of olive oil in the fridge. Great for pizza or pasta toppings, sandwiches, flatbreads.
  • Freeze: You don't need to blanch peppers in hot water before you freeze them. Follow these simple instructions for "tray freezing" to preserve your peppers, which won't have the snap and crispness of fresh ones, but will still be great in stews, soups, omelets, and other recipes.

Don't forget: You can prep dishes like peperonata and freeze them in airtight jars for use later in the winter.