• Tracy Parks

Bell Peppers

New World Native....

Bell peppers are from the Americas! The native populations have been growing them thousands of years.

Christopher Columbus brought them to Europe and named them (pemiento in Italian).

Though sweet peppers are loved all over the world today, they were very unpopular in Europe at first.

Today, it is a key ingredient in many cuisines worldwide.

Fruits of Labor

The mild, or sweet, bell pepper we know today was first developed in the 1920's in Hungary. The pepper is technically a berry.

They grow on a short bush that grows about 3 feet tall and has white flowers.

Fun Fact:

Bell Peppers come in many colors. The most common are green, red, orange and yellow. These black ones are growing in my garden now!

You can also find dark purple, white, lilac and brown peppers. Red, yellow and orange bell peppers are all green when they start, then turn the final color when they are ripe.

You can find sweet peppers in a variety of shapes also, from the familiar bell, to the pointed mini pepper, round cherry peppers or the long tapered variety.

Can't take the heat?

You're in luck! Bell peppers are completely devoid of any capsaicin, so they are never hot.2

Good looking and good for you..

These beautiful fruits reduce cholesterol, help diabetes, is a natural anti-inflammatory and is good for your immune and nervous systems. 2

Speaking of health-

Sweet peppers are low in calories, with only 20 calories for 1 whole pepper! They are also excellent sources of vitamin C, fiber, vitamin B6, vitamin K, Potassium, B1 and are low in fat and sodium.

Selection and Storage

Look for peppers that are heavy for their size, as with most fruits and vegetables. They should be shiny with smooth skin free of blemishes and wrinkles. The number of lobes in a pepper means nothing, only the variety of pepper it is. There is a myth that says 4 lobes are better than 3, but that's simply not true. I've heard people say that 3 lobes means the pepper is male and will be bitter, and that 4 lobed peppers are female and sweet. Again, not true. Some pepper varieties are 4 lobed, some are 2, some are 6 or more. Some have thin walls, some are really thick. All are delicious. Stored wrapped in plastic and in the refrigerator, bell peppers will stay fresh for up to 5 days. Green peppers will keep a bit longer than ripe ones. You can also chop or slice them and freeze peppers for even longer storage.

Falafel Stuffed Mini Peppers

These cute little peppers are a great appetizer or party food! Pair with a salad or soup to make a light dinner as well. You can stuff them and refrigerate up to 2 days before baking, or freeze and bake just before you want to serve them.

10-12 mini peppers, cut in half and stems and ribs removed

¼ cup onion, chopped

2 cloves garlic, chopped

½ cup fresh cilantro

½ cup fresh parsley

2 cups cooked garbanzo beans

2 TBSP garbanzo flour

½ tsp ground coriander

1 tsp salt

¼ tsp ground black pepper

½ tsp ground cumin

1 TBSP lemon juice

Tzatziki sauce (recipe follows)

Preheat oven to 400°. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat. Set aside.

In a food processor add the onion, garlic, cilantro and parsley. Pulse 6 times. Add garbanzo beans, garbanzo flour, coriander, salt, black pepper, cumin and lemon juice. Process until finely ground but not smooth.

Using a spoon, fill the cavity of each pepper half and place on the prepared baking sheet. Bake 30-35 minutes or until golden brown and the tops are dry. Serve hot or at room temperature with the sauce.

Tzatziki Sauce

1 box silken tofu

1 cup cucumber, peeled, seeded and grated

2 cloves garlic, peeled

3 TBSP lemon juice

½ tsp salt

¼ tsp ground black pepper

¼ cup fresh mint, minced

¼ cup fresh dill, minced

Place all but mint, dill and cucumber in blender and blend till smooth. Stir in cumber, mint and dill. Cover and let chill 1 hour. Stir before using.

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