Mangia i tuoi colori – Eat your colors. Or as our grandmothers used to say, “Eat your vegetables!” Perhaps this is some of the best nutritional advice out there. When making food choices, if we strive to eat every color in the rainbow – R.O.Y.G.B.I.V. -red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet, we are getting a perfect dose of vitamins and minerals for our skin, teeth, eyes, immune system, blood and overall well-being. Each color in the rainbow has its own pigment, vitamin and mineral profile; for example, eating yellows such as lemons, pineapple and yellow peppers boosts our supply of vitamin C and antioxidants which reduce inflammation and give us healthy glowing skin. Yes, indigo is a color; it is a cross between blue and violet, and is found in eggplant, berries, olives and purple cabbage. By eating one cup of red bell pepper, you are getting Vitamin C, E, B6, folate and beta carotene and 93% of the daily recommended amount of Vitamin A. Red peppers contain anthocyanins and lycopene which are effective antioxidants.
The peppers in this post will take care of your red, orange, and yellow food group for the day. There are actually two recipes here, both are from Southern Italy: one for a simple sweet pepper antipasto and another for stuffed pepper rolls that can be served as a main dish. You get two delicious ways to get your Reds, Yellows, and Oranges.
The good news is that sweet peppers are still in season and can be found at Farmer’s Markets and the organic section of grocery stores for a decent price.
These recipes are not only good for you, but the colors look lovely on a serving dish!
– adapted from Cucina Del Sole by Nancy Harmon Jenkins and Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking by Marcella Hazan
Roasted Peppers with Capers and Garlic
Roasted sweet peppers for a light and flavorful antipasto
- 4 Sweet peppers, red, orange and yellow
- 2 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed with the flat of the knife, just to release flavor.
- 2 Tablespoons capers
- 2 teaspoons fresh or dried oregano
- fresh ground pepper
- 4 Tablespoons olive oil
- To roast the peppers:
The easiest and most flavorful way to roast peppers is over an open flame using a gas stove top, broiler, or grill. To roast: using tongs hold the whole pepper over the flame until the skin chars and begins to bubble and pull away from the flesh. Turn the pepper to roast all sides.
Once the peppers are blackened and done, place them immediately in a plastic bag and close it up tight. Let it steam in the plastic bag until the pepper is cool enough to touch. Remove the peppers from the plastic bag and peel away the skin.
(If you don’t have a gas stove top or grill, you can use the broiler in an electric oven to roast your peppers. Turn the broiler on high and place the peppers directly on the oven rack. Broil for about 6 minutes on a side until the skin begins to blacken and bubble. Every broiler is a bit different, so keep an eye on the peppers as they cook.)
- Cut the peeled peppers lengthwise into strips about 2 inches wide. Remove the seeds, spines and tops.
- Using a serving tray large enough to accommodate 4-5 layers of peppers, begin by placing one layer of peppers on the bottom of the serving tray.
- Sprinkle with a bit of salt and freshly milled pepper. Then add a few capers and a bit of oregano. Finish with a clove of garlic and then lay down another layer of peppers and repeat until you have used all of the peppers. Drizzle the olive oil over the top of everything.
- Marinate for two hours at room temperature before serving. If you will be serving this dish the next day, cover and refrigerate. Be sure to bring it back to room temperature before serving.
Stuffed Pepper Rolls
Sweet and savory stuffed peppers from the south of Italy.
The capers, raisins, pine nuts and olives marry with the sweet pepper to create a succulent, umami flavor.
- 4 medium sweet peppers, red, yellow and orange
- 1/2 cup bread crumbs
- 3-4 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 2 1/2 Tablespoons capers
- 1/4 cup raisins or currants
- 1/4 cup small black olives, coarsely chopped (if you can get them, use Gaeta olives from Rome. They have a unique, delicious flavor)
- 3 Tablespoons pine nuts
- 2 Tablespoons Italian parsley, finely chopped
- Roast the peppers as indicated in the above recipe, but after roasting, cut the peppers in half. Remove seeds, spines and tops.
- In a medium-sized bowl, mix together the bread crumbs and olive oil.
- Add capers, raisins, olives, pine nuts and parsley. Mix until uniform.
- Prepare a 8 x 8 casserole dish with a thin coat of olive oil. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
- Lay a pepper skin side down on a cutting board with the widest end of the pepper closest to you. Put 2 teaspoons of filling at the widest end of the pepper. Carefully roll up the pepper around the filling. Place the rolled up pepper on the baking dish with the open end down. Continue filling and rolling all of the pepper halves.
- If you have leftover filling, sprinkle it over the top of the rolled up peppers.
- Gently drizzle olive oil over the peppers and bake at 375 degrees F for 20 minutes.
- Enjoy the sweet and savory flavors of this dish with a nice glass of Sauvignon Blanc.