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.
- Stuff: Yes, the slimmer peppers can be stuffed just as easily as the more round bell peppers. Cut an opening down one side and use your fingers to stuff the peppers, as in this recipe for stuffed sweet peppers with tuna, bulgur, and herbs. Or try these mini bell peppers stuffed with goat cheese as an appetizer or side dish.
- Marinate: These roasted marinated sweet peppers and mozzarella make a great appetizer, as would a vegan version swapping tofu for the cheese.
- Make breakfast: Try this three pepper shakshuka pita with feta and za’atar, or this grilled pepper omelet to start your day or for a special brunch.
- Scorch: Try these scorched sweet peppers with onions for a simple side dish.
- Stir fry: This stir-fried chicken with sweet and hot peppers and cashews can be done with a mix of colors of peppers, or all green ones, as the author did. Grab a handful of hot peppers from the basket at the farm's Petworth Market stand for this recipe.
- Grill: This autumn's still warm enough to use the grill, so try this Tunisian grilled pepper, tomato, and couscous salad.
- Stew: Make peperonata, a wonderful condiment and sauce that can be anything from a pizza topping to a sauce for polenta.
- Relish: This sweet and smoky 3-pepper relish adds a jalapeno for heat, but the base is made from sweet peppers.
- 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.