Isn’t it strange how a single word can plant a positive or negative image? Take Nightshade’s poisonous reputation. In fact, the multitudinous American Nightshade family includes peppers, chilies, eggplant, potatoes and tomatoes. To be sure, there are a few black sheep in this family, such as belladonna. That clan of the family is native throughout Europe, North Africa and Central Asia. However, the branch native to the Americas is solely responsible for the all the favored edibles. They owe their current global popularity to Columbus and his voyages.
Taking our marching orders from Sgt. Pepper, let‘s talk about the bell pepper. Here is yet another, beautifully colored fruit masquerading as a vegetable. Raw, this pepper is crisp with a faintly citrus crunch. Roasted, its flavor intensifies and sweetens. Cajuns and Creoles alike consider the bell pepper, along with onions and celery to be members of the “holy trinity” of Louisiana cuisine. Not content with this critical fame, bell peppers have become the foundation of dishes in cuisines as diverse as Mexican, French, Chinese, Indian, Turkish and Thai. Given its concentrated flavor, it’s no surprise that this pepper is now cultivated on every continent except Antarctica.
This orb, regardless of its hue, simply begs to be filled. At this time of year, the options for a prosperous match are nearly boundless. Walk up to almost any table in the market and you’ll find potential stuffees for your peppers. The bell pepper can hold its own with onions, meat, cheese, herbs, fruits and veggies alike.
In columns past, we have shared several recipes, which are now available on the website, including: Peperonata, Roasted Yellow Pepper Soup, Farro Stuffed Sweet Peppers and a Pepper, Jicama and Citrus Salad. This week we are stuffing our peppers in Pork and Mushroom Stuffed Peppers. It is an easy, nutritious way to put flavor on the table.