I had picked up some of these "Lipstick" red bell peppers at our farmer's market last year because our bell peppers were pathetic. We loved them so much, we went back and bought more and found out from the farmer that they are easy to grow and prolific. So, of course, we saved the seeds (just let them dry on a paper towel and stored them in an envelope made of newspaper). That farmer was right.
I have plenty socked away in the freezer ready to use in all sorts of dishes this winter, so I've started looking for other ways to preserve them (that don't involve lugging out the canner again). For the very first time, I tried roasting peppers in my oven and it worked beautifully. I haven't roasted them before because I thought of roasted peppers as a luxury, not a very practical way of using them. But! When you're swimming in them, it just seems like the right thing to do.
I followed the instructions found here. I used a pastry brush to coat them generously with canola oil and laid them on a greased baking sheet. I stuck them in the oven on an upper rack and turned on the broiler and kept a very close eye on them. They took about 5 minutes to blacken. I then, carefully, turned them over and put them back under the broiler. Once blackened nicely, I transferred them to a bowl and covered it tightly with plastic wrap and let them sit for about 20 minutes.
Up until this point the task was easy. Pulling off the skins is easy as well, but a little bit tedious as you try to ensure you get all the skins off and seeds scraped out. Taste them at your own risk. You may eat them all and have none to preserve.
In the comments section of the instructions I followed someone asked about the best way to preserve the roasted peppers. The commenter received this response...
"To save the peppers for future use we freeze them in serving portions. Put a serving (we generally use a whole pepper per serving) laid flat on a piece of wax paper. Fold the wax paper over the pepper covering it on all sides and fold the edges. You can put several layers of pepper servings in one quart zip lock freezer bag. When you pull out the frozen, roasted pepper, pull of the wax paper right away. It peels off the frozen pepper, and use in your recipe. They are also easier to cut when frozen."
So, that's what I did. I'm looking forward to roasting more and trying recipes that call for them since in the past I've just dismissed them.
The other thing I did with peppers this past week was to stuff them. We've tried several different stuffed pepper recipes over the years and they've all been okay. But, then there's this one that we keep coming back to, over and over again.
Don't let the lentils and rice scare you off (I find lentils and rice kind of boring, albeit yummy and nutritious). The sausage, balsamic vinegar and raisins give it incredible flavor. In other words, NOT boring. We LOVE eating our peppers this way.
Lentil and Sausage Stuffed Peppers (adapted from Cooking Light Annual Recipes 2001)
These freeze well unbaked.
4 1/2 cups water
3/4 cup dried lentils
3/4 cup brown rice
1/2 tsp. salt
8 red or yellow bell peppers, halved and cored
12 ounces bulk sausage
1 1/2 cup mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup raisins
2 tbsp. chopped fresh parsley
2 tbsp. chopped fresh basil
3 tbsp. balsamic vinegar
1/4 tsp. ground black pepper
1/2 cup parmesan cheese
Combine water, lentils, brown rice and salt in a cooking pot and bring to a boil. Simmer for 35 minutes or until rice is soft. Drain off excess water and place in a large bowl.
While the lentils and rice are cooking, bring a large pot of water to a boil. Place halved and cored peppers into the boiling water and let them cook for 5 minutes. Drain off the water and place them cut side up in a greased 9 x 13 inch baking dish.
Saute the sausage in a skillet until cooked through. Place the cooked sausage in the bowl with the rice and lentils and add in the remainder of the ingredients (except the parmesan cheese), tossing well.
Fill the peppers generously with the filling and them sprinkle the tops with parmesan cheese. Bake, covered, at 350 degrees for 15 minutes, then remove the foil and bake for another 15 minutes.