The truth about the bell pepper is that, though they come in a rainbow of colors from green to yellow to orange to red and even purple, they are actually all from the same plant (a cultivar group of the species Capsicum annuum). Ripeness determines the color and taste, though all start off green. So, red and purple are the ripest and, therefore, the sweetest. As a result, they go backward from these, so orange and yellow are next in line and are a bit less sweet than the reds and purples. Finally, green bell peppers are the least ripe and are the most bitter. You can find all of these shades of bell pepper at Pearl Market.
When selecting a bell pepper, there are three main things to consider: color, texture and weight. Healthy bell peppers feel firm and fresh and have a glossy appearance (shiny and smooth). Also, they have fresh stems and feel wholesome and heavy in the hand. Unhealthy bell peppers are excessively soft, have a dull appearance (dry and rough) and skins have wrinkles, cracks, spots and slashes or a shriveled skin. Additionally, they are light-weighted and without uniform sizes. Store bell peppers in airtight bags or containers in the refrigerator for not more than seven days. For more tips on cutting and cooking these delicious peppers, visit www.durablehealth.net/food-nutrition/bell-pepper-how-to-select-cut-cook/.
Finally, like all other “vegetables” that come from a flowering plant and have internal seeds – such as the cucumber, tomato and pumpkin – the bell pepper is actually a fruit. Now that you know the truth about bell peppers, stop by Pearl Market -- there are only a few market days left -- for the freshest bell peppers in town to make the Heartland Bank Recipe of the Week below from the vegan cookbook The Chinese Study Quick & Easy Cookbook: Cook Once, Eat All Week with Whole Food, Plant-Based Recipes by Del Sroufe.
The rosemary, nutmeg and orange zest in this soup really bring the sweet potatoes, leeks and red pepper to life.
2 large leeks, white and light green parts only, diced and rinsed
1 large red bell pepper, diced
1 teaspoon dried rosemary
¼ teaspoon nutmeg
3 large sweet potatoes, peeled and diced
4 cups vegetable stock
Zest of 1 orange
Sea salt and black pepper to taste
Step 1: First, sauté the leeks and red bell pepper in large saucepan for 5 minutes. Add water 1-2 tablespoons at a time to keep the vegetables from sticking.
Step 2: Next, add the rosemary, nutmeg, sweet potatoes, vegetable stock and orange zest. Bring the pot to a
boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to medium and cook the soup until the sweet potatoes are tender, about 12 minutes.
Step 3. Finally, season the soup with salt and pepper and cook for a few minutes more to allow the flavors to
marry. Puree up to half the soup for a creamier consistency.