Real Food: Sweet bell peppers are colorful, delicious and healthy

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Welcome to the wonderful world of peppers! Foothill neighbors who planted gardens earlier in the year are reaping the benefits of spring rains and recent warm weather. In fact, it’s important each and every day to check out the garden for the daily yield of yellow summer squashes and green zucchini. Several varieties of eggplant are getting a good start as well. But what I’ve received as a special treat are baskets of sweet peppers: green, purple, yellow, orange and red. Sweet bell peppers are a nice combination of crunchy texture with a tangy taste and they’re loaded with beneficial nutrients. According to The World’s Healthiest Foods “a recent study from Spain took a close look at vitamin C, vitamin E, and six carotenoids (alpha-carotene, beta-carotene, lycopene, lutein, cryptoxanthin and zeaxanthin) and found that only two common vegetables contained at least two-thirds of all the listed nutrients. One of these foods was tomato, and the other was sweet bell pepper. Enjoy the abundance of sweet peppers now through the fall months. In addition to preparing them grilled or roasted, they’re colorful and a nutritional addition to cabbage slaws, corn salad, or diced with some sweet and sour cucumbers. And the best part: One cup of bell peppers contains only 24 calories. Learn more about Joanne Neft and Laura Kenny’s “Placer County Real Food” project and cookbook at __________ Lamb Stuffed Peppers 8 large bell peppers 2 tablespoons olive oil Salt and pepper to taste 3 pounds ground lamb 1 tablespoon olive oil 2 tablespoons lamb seasoning ¾ cup yellow onion, minced 2 tablespoons garlic, minced 2 eggplants, peeled and diced small ½ cup basil, chopped ¼ pound feta, crumbled Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Toss peppers with oil, salt and pepper and roast 20-30 minutes. After removing from oven, cover with plastic to steam 5 to 10 minutes longer. Cool slightly and peel the skin away, careful not to puncture the pepper. Remove the tops of the peppers. Remove seeds, being careful not to tear peppers. Place peppers, cut side up, on a sheet tray and set aside. In a large sauté pan, brown the ground lamb in olive oil. Add lamb seasoning, salt and pepper to taste. When done, place in a medium bowl and set aside. In the same pan, sauté onions, garlic and eggplant. Add more salt and pepper if desired. Add ¼ cup basil. Mix 2/3 of the eggplant with the lamb, and stuff peppers with this mixture. Top with feta. Reheat peppers in oven at 350 degrees. Reheat remaining ½ eggplant and onion mixture on stovetop. Spread hot eggplant on platter. Arrange peppers on top. Garnish with chopped basil.