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In Season: Bell Peppers

Everyday Food, September 2011

Quick Ideas for Red Pepper Relish

  • Stir a spoonful into chicken or tuna salad.
  • Spoon on top of steak or grilled pork chops.
  • Use to top hummus and serve with crudites.
  • Spread inside a grilled cheese sandwich before cooking.
  • Serve with fresh, tangy goat cheese and crackers.
  • Add to a turkey or ham wrap.
  • Toss with pasta and fresh oregano.

The Basics

Bell peppers are part of the chile family but, unlike their spicier counterparts, such as jalapeños and habaneros, they don't contain capsaicin, the compound that gives other chiles their heat. All bell peppers start off green and can turn red, orange, or yellow as they ripen and their flesh becomes sweeter. At their peak in late summer and early fall, bell peppers are available in a rainbow of colors.

Buying and Storing 

Choose peppers that feel heavy for their size and have glossy, smooth skin. Wash well and buy organic whenever possible—bell peppers are among the vegetables grown with the most pesticides. When shopping for peppers to stuff, pick ones that are uniform in size and shape for even cooking. Refrigerate them in a ven tilated bag in the crisper, up to 5 days.

To Use 

Bell peppers' mild flavor and satisfying crunch make serving them raw a popular choice, but roasting, grilling, baking, or stir-frying them brings out a deeper, sweeter taste. To swiftly stem and seed a pepper, stand it upright, then slice off the sides, cutting from top to bottom, leaving the core, ribs, and seeds behind.