One of the things we are so fortunate to experience when participating with a CSA is being exposed to new things. This week, let’s look at Sweet Italian Peppers!
I had never eaten Sweet Italian Peppers until moving to the East Coast. The pepper varieties are very different in CA for some reason. The first time I bit into one, I was amazed that there was no heat! I had expected a little heat, due to the shape & color, the peppery aroma. But instead, so sweet!
The 1st time I had Annie’s Pepper’s an immediate memory of childhood was triggered. I’m not sure why – I think maybe the mass production growing done in CA has really removed a lot of the flavor profiles that used to exist in fruits & veggies. Unless you have an heirloom variety, you aren’t tasting what the fruit or veg really SHOULD taste like! My 1st bite of Annie’s peppers made my heart so happy…. This is what a pepper is SUPPOSED to taste like. It brought me back to being a little kid & eating peppers my mom perhaps had given me to snack on.
I think a lot of people really like roasting this specific variety, but I try to present it in a way that will highlight its spectacular flavor. I kind of think roasting, though delicious, changes the flavor in a way that you lose something.
The 2 enclosed recipe’s help to spotlight these pretty peppers. Enjoy!
Uses from Broad Wing Farm Share: Sweet Italian Peppers
You Pick:> (optional) jalapeno pepper, or other spicy pepper (green if you can find one!)
Shopping List: Apple Cider Vinegar, White Sugar, Certo Liquid Pectin
1 cup very tiny diced Sweet Italian Peppers | cut in half, pull out tops with you fingers, cut out any white vein, & remove seeds; discard before dicing tiny(optional) 1 spicy pepper | Cut in the same manner as above. If you remove the veins/seeds, you will remove some of the heat. When preparing the spicy pepper, wear gloves if you have them, or immediately wash your hands in COLD water if you don’t. 1 ½ cups Apple Cider Vinegar | 6 cups of white sugar | 4 oz Certo Liquid Pectin |
Put peppers, vinegar, & sugar in a medium sized heavy pot & bring to a simmer over medium low heat. You want to stir occasionally, making sure all the sugar is dissolved. I like to simmer for about 5 minutes AFTER sugar has dissolved.
At this point, follow the directions on the pectin pouch. I’ve seen some that say to add the pectin while simmering on heat. I’ve seen others saying to add & bring to a simmer for a specific period of time to set the jelly. I’ve also seen some that say mix it in off heat, so just follow those instructions exactly.
Once the pectin has been added, allow to cool, & put in a tightly sealed container & store in the fridge. This holds well for a while – I actually think it gets better with time!!
Summer Vegetable Stuffed Peppers
Uses from Broad Wing Farm Share: Sweet Italian Peppers, King Harry Potatoes, Squash/Zucchini, Orange Compari & Cherry Tomatoes
You Pick:> Fresh Basil, Fresh Thyme
Shopping List: 1 lb Ground Turkey, Medium Yellow Onion, Bulb Garlic, Fresh Bunched Oregano, Sherry Vinegar
Special Note: I like ground turkey with this recipe. I think it spotlights the flavor of each summer vegetable & herb. If you prefer to do vegetarian, I suggest quinoa instead of rice. Quinoa will offer you protein, & will pair better with the potato than rice would.
As many peppers as you want to stuff | Keep the stem on, & set the pepper down on a counter so you can see the side it will lay flat on. With a very sharp knife, cut the opposite of the flat side, starting at the base of the stem & cutting to the end, creating a ‘canoe’. Remove any white veins & seeds with your fingers or a small spoon. Lay the pepper canoes on a lightly oiled baking dish or pan. Cut the pieces of remaining pepper into a small dice, set aside½ pound potatoes | leave skin on & cube very small1-2 large zucchini/squash | diced small, similar size to potatoes1 medium yellow onion | diced small4-6 garlic cloves | trimmed (put ends in freezer bag), & chopped1 small Summer squash| diced¼ cup (chopped) thyme | leaves removed from stems by pulling up with your fingers from the base of each sprig. Save the stems in your freezer bag! Chop leaves.Entire bunch of oregano | same method as above, discard stems¼ cup (chopped basil leaves | discard stems1 lb ground turkey | All of your Compari & Cherry Tomatoes | 1 tbsp sherry vinegar | Extra Virgin Olive Oil | Salt & Pepper to taste
Pre-heat oven to 350. If you have convection, use this setting.
In a large sauté pan or skillet, heat 2 tbsp of olive oil over very high heat. When the oil begins to shimmer, let it continue to heat, but don’t let it smoke. When the oil is very hot, carefully drop in all of your tomatoes, & allow to ‘blister’. Add your vinegar & immediately remove from heat. Put the tomatoes & all liquid from the pan in a medium bowl & set aside.
In the same pan, add 2 more tbsp of Olive Oil & heat oil on medium heat. Just as it begins to shimmer, add your chopped onions, peppers, & potatoes. When these start to cook, add your squash. Allow to cook a minute longer, & add your onions. Allow to cook another minute, & add the ground turkey & chopped garlic. Cook until turkey is completely cooked, but not brown. Vegetables might still be a little under cooked, that’s OK. Remove from heat, stir in chopped thyme, oregano, salt, & pepper to taste.
With your hands, lightly squeeze each tomato that hasn’t ‘popped’ in the blistering process, & mix in chopped basil & salt. Pour mixture in with turkey & stir just enough to incorporate the tomatoes.
With a very large spoon, stuff each pepper as full as you can, mounding the mix at the top. Cover the stuffed peppers with foil, being careful that the foil isn’t coming in contact with the pepper stuffing. Put in oven & bake undisturbed for 20 minutes. Remove dish from oven, remove foil (careful of steam), rotate dish & return uncovered to oven for another 10 minutes, or until the peppers are just starting to become soft. Carefully remove each pepper with tongs. These are packed with everything you could possibly want, but a small green salad on the side might be nice!