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In Season: Bell Peppers

Whether you're a CSA devotee, a farmers' market weekender or consider ketchup a veg, we'll bring you fresh inspiration for how to prepare our local produce.

This week's harvest: Bell Peppers

Botanically speaking, bell peppers are lovely low-sugar fruits. However, in the culinary world, we consider them vegetables and the only plant in the capsicum genus that doesn't bring the heat - capsaicin. Bells are often just the "color" or "crunchy" vegetable in a dish but they are loaded with Vitamin C (one large red bell pepper contains 209 mg of vitamin C, which is almost three times the 70 mg of an average orange). Nice -- no scurvy for us.

Bell peppers grow in a whole spectrum of colors, and they're gorgeous: green, yellow, orange, red, purple, brown or white bell peppers are at the markets right now. Talk about adding color to your meals. You'll have to slip on your shades to get cooking.

Here are several creative recipes that show you how to use these sweet late summer gems.

​When are bell peppers in season? June through November

Selecting, storage and preparation tips:
Select firm crisp peppers that aren't wrinkly and then promptly take them home and keep them dry and loosely covered in plastic in the fridge until ready to eat. If you happened to accidentally leave some of your peppers on the counter too long and they did turn soft, give it a go and submerge them in cold water for 20 minutes or so. You might find that some of the peppers will spring back to life.

Recipes:

Muhammara
Get your dip on with this smoky nutty mezze.
Bell peppers are sort of ideal for stuffing with meats and cheeses but I figure you've seen that before - though I'm always thouroughly impressed when I see this at a party. Same goes for hollowed out cabbages.

Red Bell Pepper Goat Cheese Smørbrød
How perfect and simple is this Scandanavian open-faced sandwich?

Stir Fried Japanese Tofu
Green bells, don't get much love, but here's a nice familiar way to prepare them, even though they are less sweet and more astringent tasting than their more colorful brothers and sisters.

Chicken and Bell Pepper Weave
Here's kind of a cool way to get your kids to eat bells and to impress your dinner date.

Red Pepper Daisy
Wind down with this muddled cocktail infused with fresh red bell peppers.

Jennifer Woods is a local food advocate with over 10 years working in the AZ food industry, and currently works for Crooked Sky Farms, a CSA produce farm based in South Phoenix.

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