2012-09-06 / Local & State

PA Peppers Add Spice, Color And Nutrition To Your Meal

By William Troxell

EXECUTIVE SECRETARY

PENNSYLVANIA VEGETABLE MARKETING AND RESEARCH PROGRAM

Peppers are a favorite flavor enhancing ingredient in many recipes featuring meats or other vegetables. And because they come in various shades of red, yellow, orange and purple besides the basic green, they can also add a rainbow of color. Best of all, they are a significant source of vitamin C as well.

Pennsylvania vegetable growers grow about 1,200 acres of peppers to add that extra bit of flavor to pizza, salads, stir- fry, omelets, sauces and numerous other dishes. About 80 percent of the acreage in Pennsylvania is planted in sweet peppers. Less than 20 percent is devoted to the hotter varieties. Sweet bell peppers are usually sold in the mature green stage. However, if green peppers are left on the plant to fully mature, they will turn color. Most varieties will turn red but some turn brilliant shades of yellow or orange while others become purple.

As they turn color, their sugar content increases along with their vitamin C content. Green peppers have twice as much vitamin C as citrus fruit by weight while red peppers have three times as much plus beta carotene. Hot peppers are also high in vitamin C.

While the familiar blocky bell peppers are the most common sweet pepper, there are several other kinds that are classified as sweet peppers but have a stronger flavor than bell peppers. This extra flavor makes them excellent additions to various dishes. Among these varieties are cubanelle, banana and pimento peppers.

There are many kinds of hot peppers grown. Probably the most common ones grown in Pennsylvania are Hungarian wax, jalapeno, cherry and cayenne. Capsaicin, the substance that makes peppers hot, is extremely pungent in its pure state. Capsaicin and related compounds are concentrated in the placenta of the pepper – the white ribs inside the pepper that hold the seeds. Thus much of the heat of peppers can be removed if this part is cut out. It is important to wear rubber gloves or repeatedly wash one’s hands while doing this to protect them. Be especially careful not touch the face or eyes during the process.

Besides adding flavor to the diet, sweet peppers can be eaten in quantities sufficient to supply significant amounts of vitamin C to the diet and help fulfill the recommended 2- to 2-1/2 cups of vegetables per day recommended by nutrition experts for most Americans. Raw peppers sliced lengthwise into spears make a tasty and colorful addition to platters of other raw vegetables served with dip.

The following recipes from the 2012 Pennsylvania “Simply Delicious, Simply Nutritious” Vegetable Recipe Contest offer delightful options for including peppers in your menus. Additional recipes for peppers and other vegetables are available at www.paveggies.org.

Roasted Red Pepper

Halves with Quinoa

Stuffing

Serves 4

2 medium red bell peppers salt and pepper

1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons quinoa, well rinsed

1/2 cup chicken broth

1 cup mild chunky salsa

1/ 8 pound Andouille sausage, finely diced 1/2 teaspoon chili powder

2 cups raw spinach, chopped

2 teaspoons pesto

1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

2 tablespoons toasted pinenuts, optional garnish

Cut peppers in half and remove seeds. Place, cut side down, on greased 4-sided baking sheet. Grease outside of peppers and roast near top of oven at 450 degrees about 10 minutes until peppers show some signs of charring and they are beginning to soften. Lightly salt and pepper insides and set aside. Combine quinoa, broth, salsa, sausage and chili powder in saucepan. Bring to a boil and simmer for 10-15 minutes until liquid is absorbed and grain is translucent and swollen. Add a small amount of water or broth if mixture becomes dry before quinoa is tender. Stir in the spinach, pesto, grated cheese and a grinding of black pepper, Spoon mixture into pepper halves. Place in microwavesafe dish and heat in microwave at 90% power for 1 to 2 minutes or until heated. May be garnished with toasted pinenuts, if desired.

Submitted by Frances Dietz, York.

Pepperonata
1 to 2 large sweet onions
6 to 8 sweet yellow, orange
and red peppers
handful of fresh Italian
basil leaves, chopped
pinch or two of diced hot
pepper (red)
few pinches of oregano
few pinches of garlic powder Italian olive oil
salt
4 plum tomatoes, coarsely chopped
Sauté onions sliced (not
too thinly) in a large heavy
frying pan in some olive oil.
When they begin to soften
add deseeded sweet peppers
sliced in eighths (or approximately) over medium high
heat, adjust heat if burning
but some blackening of peppers is OK. Cook until peppers have a little bite to them
(al dente) – do not overcook.

Add seasonings and keep adding olive oil as necessary. Finally, add coarsely chopped tomatoes and cook just to wilt; you will probably need quite a bit of salt. Drizzle after removing from stove with extra olive oil and serve at room temperature with artisan bread for dipping – stir well.

Submitted by Victoria Hewitt, State College.

Pepper Cups
Serves 15 to 20
8 ounces cream cheese,
softened
1/3 cup lite ranch dressing 1 cup finely chopped
green peppers
1 cup finely chopped red
peppers
1 cup finely chopped orange peppers
1/4 cup fried and crumbled bacon
1/4 cup finely chopped
onion
1/2 cup finely shredded
cheddar cheese
1 teaspoon garlic powder
15 to 20 mini fillo shells
parmesan/romano cheese,
grated
In a mixing bowl cream
together cream cheese and
dressing. Add peppers, bacon, onion, cheese and garlic
powder. Mix until well combined. Spoon into mini fillo
shells. Sprinkle with parmesan/ romano cheese.

Submitted by Bonnie Swartz, Mt. Pleasant

Connie Lynn Barnett and Hilda Joan Johnston in Wells Township, tax exempt.

Thelma Patricia Souders by Carl Duane Souders and Roy James Souders to Carl Duane Souders, Roy James Souders, Shirley Diane Hall, Connie Lynn Barnett and Hilda Joan Johnston in Wells Township, tax exempt.

Thelma Patricia Souders by Carl Duane Souders and Roy James Souders to Carl Duane Souders, Roy James Souders, Shirley Diane Hall, Connie Lynn Barnett and Hilda Joan Johnston in Wells Township, tax exempt.

Roy James Souders, Connie Lynn Barnett and Hilda Joan Johnston to Carl Duane Souders and Shirley Diane Hall in Wells Township, tax exempt.

Ronald L. Wise Sr. and Nancy B. Wise to Ronald L. Wise Sr. and Nancy B. Wise in Todd Township, tax exempt.

Gerald Mentzer to Bradley T. Mentzer and Misty D. Mentzer in Belfast Township, $600 in tax stamps.

Susquehanna Bank to Norman Sheffield Jr. and Susan Sheffield in Dublin Township, $300 in tax stamps.

Deborah H. Bookheimer King to Deborah K. Bookheimer in Dublin Township, tax exempt.

Olive Elizabeth Mason to Roger L. Barnett and Claudia S. Barnett in McConnellsburg Borough, $960 in tax stamps.

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