Now is by far the best time of the season (at least in Illinois) for the farmers’ markets. Among the fresh berries, tomatoes (that’s another post!) and apples are some really amazing sweet peppers. Red, green and yellow bell peppers are actually the same plant (a cultivar ofCapsicum annuum), chosen at different stages of ripening for different colors and flavors.
Bell peppers go well with a variety of foods, like sausage, tomato sauce and ground beef, but my favorite is pairing them with fresh goat cheese. The earthy sweetness of the pepper (particularly red) complements the tanginess of the goat cheese perfectly, and gives a great depth to pastas, sandwiches and pizzas. Last weekend, I returned from our local farmers’ market with about a half dozen peppers in several colors, and got to work. I roasted them over a charcoal grill until the skins were blackened, and then set them in a bowl covered with shrink wrap for about 5 minutes to loosen the skin. If you don’t have access to a grill, try roasting them in an oven or broiler, turning the peppers every few minutes so the skin is evenly charred.After peeling them, I sliced the flesh into strips, saving most of it for later.
The remaining parts I layered on top of toast spread with a thin layer of goat cheese and a twist of freshly ground pepper. I then piled on some carmelized onions and grilled chicken, popped in between the plates of my panini press, and out came a delicious, summery sandwich.
The rest of the peppers were used over the next few days on a pizza and another sandwich. There are a thousand uses for roasted sweet peppers, and they keep in the fridge for about 5 days.