Bell peppers are a delicious combination of tangy, crunchy, and fresh tasting. While all these peppers originate from the same Capsicum annuum plant, different colors reflect different flavor profiles. For example, green and purple peppers have a slightly bitter flavor, while the red, orange and yellows are sweeter and almost fruity. Red peppers lend themselves to paprika, the smokey, sweet, and chili spice. Bell peppers are also an excellent source of carotenoids and vitamin C, especially when fully ripened.
In the United States, official bell pepper season is from July to September. However, you can purchase your bell peppers responsibly at the greenmarkets in Union square, Park slope, Carroll gardens and Queens from the lovely farmers at Norwich Meadows Farm, John D. Maduro Farm, and Katchkie Farm. While you’re at the markets, also look for Dolce Nonnas line of artisanal agri-dolce peppers.
Gorgonzola & Sausage Risotto Stuffed Peppers
When we’re in mood for a hearty meal, we hope that stuffed peppers just fall from the sky. But alas, that isn’t possible, so here is one of our favorite renditions of the beloved heartwarming dish — from the folks at Brooklyn Ragazza, using classic Italian flavor combinations like sausage and pepper.
Ingredients: 2 tbsp olive oil; 1 med onion, chopped; 2 c uncooked Arborio rice; 6 c chicken broth (or veg); ½ cup of Pino Grigio (or any white cooking wine); ¾ c grated gorgonzola cheese; 1 c of shredded mozzarella cheese; 1½ c of browned Italian sausage (or flavored tempeh can work too!); 4 bell peppers; sliced lengthwise.
Method: Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Prepare peppers by slicing in half, seeding, and rubbing with a little olive oil. Place in oven for about 20 minutes. Remove and set aside for filling with risotto and baking. Heat the olive oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add chopped onion and cook until soft. Add the 2 c of rice all at once, add the wine, stir and simmer for a few minutes. Add the broth, 1/2 cup at a time, stirring the rice until the broth has been absorbed between each addition. In large sauté pan on medium heat, brown the sausage and transfer to a paper towel-lined plate. Once the risotto is cooked and creamy, remove from heat. Add gorgonzola cheese and stir to incorporate. Fill each pepper half-way with the risotto and top with a couple spoons of mozzarella cheese. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 25 minutes. Serve immediately.
Adapted from The Brooklyn Ragazza
Roasted Red Pepper Dip
We love the vibrant orange of this Smitten Kitchen classic dip — chock-full of healthy nutrients and perfect for entertaining.
Ingredients: 1 15-ounce can of white cannelini or navy beans, drained and rinsed; Red Peppers, roasted; 3 ounces cream cheese, softened; 1 clove garlic, minced; juice from half a lemon; Salt and pepper to taste
Method: Remove the stem and seeds from the roasted red pepper. Slice and combine ingredients. Puree in a food processor until smooth.
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen
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