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Red Peppers: The Most Versatile Of Summer Vegetables

Updated on June 29, 2010

Red peppers are among the most versatile of vegetables, and summer is the time to get your fill. It'll be February before you know it, and you'll have to buy the imported ones from Holland, at $6.99 a pound!

I must have been 25 by the time I figured out that red bell peppers were just riper versions of green bell peppers. Fresh red peppers are both unobtrusive and colorful, making them a welcome addition to just about any salad, sauté, pasta sauce, or pilaf. The only dishes they don't succeed in are long-cooking ones, such as casseroles and stews, because overcooked red peppers turn limp and a little gray.

Fresh red peppers can easily be turned into roasted red peppers, which are perhaps even more versatile than fresh ones. For instructions on roasting red peppers, see the recipe below…. For an even easier way to get roasted peppers, buy them in a jar. Although you'll find they have an acidic taste, they're nevertheless peppery and perfectly good.

Red peppers - fresh or roasted - go with almost anything. It might be easier to list things you can't add them to - like breakfast cereal or ice cream - than things you can, but that wouldn't be at all helpful.

Make a quick red-pepper sauce by pureeing roasted peppers with some chicken or vegetable stock and the herb of your choice. If you puree the peppers on the thick side and add a little yogurt, you have a dip.

  • Roasted peppers add color and flavor to almost any sandwich.
  • Add red peppers to a green vegetable dish. They look and taste great with spinach, asparagus, chard, or green beans.
  • Put red-pepper pieces on your kabobs; they grill up nicely.
  • Puree roasted peppers into hummus or baba ghanoush.
  • Sauté red, yellow, and green peppers with sliced onions and garlic, and use the mixture as a bed for grilled fish, chicken, or sausage.
  • Make salsa with fresh or roasted red peppers, tomatoes, scallions, lime juice, and a chile pepper.

If you end up with more than you can handle, roast and then freeze them. Come February, you'll be happy you did.

Roasted Red-Pepper Cheese Dip

1 large red pepper
1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup milk
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
1 medium garlic clove, chopped coarsely
1 cup fresh parsley leaves, chopped
1/4 cup chives, chopped
a few leaves of fresh thyme

1. The easiest way to roast peppers is on an outdoor BBQ; just place directly on the grill over high heat and keep turning the peppers until blackened on all sides. Alternately, you can roast them in the oven. Preheat the broiler. Prepare the peppers by cutting them in half lengthwise, scooping out the seeds and arrange cut side down on a pan lined with foil. Place in the oven about six inches from the broiler, until the peppers blister and blacken, about 5 to 7 minutes. Once blackened, remove from the oven or BBQ, place peppers in a glass bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Allow to steam for about 15 minutes at room temperature so the peppers become cool enough to handle.

2. Once cooled, peel off the pepper skins and discard them. Roughly chop each pepper.

3. Now, prepare the dip. Combine roasted peppers, cream cheese, milk, garlic, salt and pepper in a food processor and blend until smooth. Place in a bowl and stir in thyme, chives and parsley. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

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