Some like it hot, while others are more mild. These pepper recipes span the continuum for heat tolerance, making something for everyone.
I’ll admit my garden has been lackluster this summer.
I got it in late, and it’s been stupid hot, and we just haven’t gotten a solid return on our investment of water and time. I’ve harvested a handful of tomatoes, a few decent squashes, some good herbs and some sad peppers.
My bell pepper plants have not produced a single thing. Not. One. Thing. My serranos do offer up some small pickins now and then, as do my jalapeno plants, but overall, it’s just a big disappointment.
The peppers are by far the saddest part of the whole thing because my husband is a pepper nutcase. He likes to harvest jalapenos, slice them up and eat them plain for a snack. He likes them on his eggs, in his salads, atop his hamburgers and as garnish on just about any dish I put in front of him. EVERYTHING is better with peppers.
I see him coming in from the garden with his handful of small, sad peppers, and I am sorry. Mostly sorry because they are not fit for stuffing with cream cheese and bacon and throwing on the grill, but also sorry because he has spent so much time in the heat, watering and tending and trying to make a go of the whole thing, only to be rewarded with these paltry offerings.
One thing, though, that the small peppers are good for, is sauce. They’re fine to throw in a food processor with some tomatoes for salsa, and they’re good for cream cheese dips and the like.
Recently, I decided to try my hand at chimichurri sauce, as it also seemed like a good application for the tiny peppers our garden is giving us. It’s good in a wrap, on eggs, tossed on a taco or drizzled over a steak.
For this particular dinner, I wanted to do something a little more special than just steak, so I added cheese to the mix. That makes everything better, right?
Steak Roulade with Jalapeno Chimichurri Sauce
For the sauce:
- 3 large jalapenos (or, if you are in my boat, about 6 really small ones)
- heaping handful of cilantro leaves (like half of the bundle you would get at the supermarket)
- 1/3 cup walnuts
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 2 teaspoons lime juice
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1/3 cup sour cream (optional)
- 1/2 cup water
- salt and pepper
Throw everything in a blender and process until it’s a thick sauce. It will have a little texture but should not have large pieces of nuts or jalapenos in it. I add the sour cream to mine but leave it out of my husband’s sauce. It’s too spicy for me without it, but if you are into the heat, skip the cooling sour cream.
For the steak:
- 1 large top round steak, cut into four strips
- 2 mozzarella cheese sticks, room temperature
- salt and pepper
Salt and pepper the meat on both sides. Cut the cheese sticks in half and wrap the steak around them, securing with a toothpick.
Heat a skillet over high heat on the stove top (or you can do this on the grill). Once the skillet is piping hot, put the steak rounds on and brown all over, turning regularly to get it all brown. It’s important that the cheese be room temperature when you start or you will have to overcook the meat to get the cheese adequately melted.
Drizzle a tablespoon of chimichurri sauce over the top just before serving. It’s a quick and simple entree, but it looks fancy and adds something a little zesty and fresh to the steak.
Most of the time, I try to eat as seasonally as possible.
For example, I try not to buy tomatoes in the winter or sweet potatoes in the summer, because I know I’ll probably be disappointed on both fronts (and that disappointment will cost more, too).
But there’s one item I buy in the winter even though I know they’re always best in the summer: bell peppers.
I’m kind of a freak for them. Red, yellow and orange are my absolute faves. And, honestly, it took me awhile to figure them out, mainly because I’ve always hated green peppers, and they’re the ones I was exposed to the most growing up.
I didn’t understand their ubiquitous nature until I got a bit more into home vegetable gardening and realized that they were just unripe red, yellow or orange peppers.
Basically, a farm (large or small) can ensure it’ll make some money off the pepper crop by selling unripe green peppers first, rather than waiting for all of its peppers to reach maturity (and thus upping the risk that something will happen to them).
Anyhow, once I figured out how sweet and satisfying RIPE bell peppers could be, they made the staple list for my weekly shopping trips, no matter the season. Though I really do think they’re best this time of year (as they should be).
Bonus: Uncooked bell peppers have tons of Vitamin C (349 percent of your daily value from one red pepper) and Vitamin A (103 percent).
Colorful Pepper Salad with Sunny Vinaigrette
- 3 large of any (or a mixture): red, yellow and orange bell peppers, seeded and chopped
- 2 large carrots, peeled and diced
- 1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
- 1/2 to 1 cup raisins (regular or golden)
- 1 large avocado, cubed
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon agave nectar or honey
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
- Pinch each black pepper and nutmeg (trust me)
Place all salad ingredients in a bowl. Whisk together dressing ingredients in a small bowl. Pour the dressing over the salad and stir to incorporate. Enjoy! Serves 4-6.