As I mentioned on Friday that this has been a good season for peppers, my CSA share has yielded quite a few different varieties. Here are some of the ways I have used them.
Italian Peppers and Eggs
This recipe is a traditional Italian dish served at lunch with crispy Italian bread.
8 large organic free-range eggs
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon dried chili pepper flakes
2 cloves of garlic, grated
1 large sweet onion, peeled and sliced
16 Italian sweet (banana) frying peppers
Salt and pepper to taste
Slice peppers in half lengthwise. Remove the stem and seeds, Cut each half into 1-inch pieces
In a large skillet over medium heat, sauté chili, garlic and onion in olive oil until soft, about 5 minutes
Add frying peppers and sauté until they begin to soften and wilt, about 5 minutes
Beat eggs, lower heat and add beaten eggs to the pan with onion and peppers
Let set in pan, then cook gently, occasionally folding eggs over, until firm
Add salt and pepper to taste
Pickled Sweet Cherry Peppers
These pickled peppers make a delicious appetizer stuffed with salami and provolone cheese slices.
For each one quart jar, you will need:
10-15 small sweet cherry peppers
1 clove garlic
1 teaspoon black peppercorns
1 bay leaf
1½ cups white wine vinegar
1 cup of water
1 teaspoon coarse salt
2 teaspoons white sugar or sugar substitute
Wash and dry the peppers and put them in a glass quart jar. Peel the garlic clove, cut it in half and add it to the cherry peppers along with the black peppercorns and the bay leaf.
In a small saucepan, combine vinegar, water, salt, and sugar. Bring to a boil and let it cook for 1 minute. Remove the liquid mixture from the heat and immediately pour over the peppers.
Let the contents of the jar cool completely at room temperature, then cover and refrigerate for 1 week. The peppers will be ready for eating after 1 week and will store in the refrigerator for up to 3 months.
Pickled Jalapeno Pepper Slices
The number of jalapenos will depend on how large they are and what size jar you use. I love having these on hand for Mexican recipes. I used 3 jelly jars and about 16 peppers.
15-20 large jalapeños
1 cup apple cider vinegar (or white wine vinegar or distilled white vinegar)
1 cup of water
2 tablespoons honey or liquid sugar substitute
2 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
1 teaspoon salt
Wear gloves to protect your fingers and remove the stem on each pepper. Slice the peppers into thin circles. Combine the prepared peppers and smashed garlic in jelly sized glass jars.
In a small saucepan, combine vinegar, water, honey, and salt. Bring the mixture to a boil on the stove, stirring occasionally to dissolve the sweetener into the liquid. Remove from the heat and carefully pour the liquid over the peppers. Use a butter knife to push down the peppers so they all fit and there aren’t any hidden air pockets.
Let the pickles cool to room temperature in the jar, then screw on the lid and refrigerate the pickles for several days before using. They are best when fresh but keep well for several months.
Poblano peppers (pronounced po-BLAH-no) are thick, dark green-skinned chili peppers that are named after their place of origin: Puebla in Central Mexico. These chili peppers tend to be wide at the top, but with a pointy bottom. When poblano peppers are dried, they’re called ancho chilies. These are different from chipotle peppers, or smoked and dried jalapeno peppers. While poblanos tend to have a mild flavor, occasionally they can have significant heat. Different peppers from the same plant have been reported to vary substantially in heat intensity. The ripened red poblano is significantly hotter and more flavorful than the less ripe, green poblano.
It has been a good summer for growing peppers, including poblanos, in my area. Here are two ways I prepare them.
Baked Chiles Rellenos
I prefer to bake these chilies instead of frying them.
8 fresh poblano chiles
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese, divided
4 eggs, beaten
8 teaspoons granular flour, such as Wondra or Cassava (gluten-free)
Preheat the broiler. Lay chiles in a single layer on a baking sheet lined with foil. Cook about 4 inches. from the broiler until the chiles are blistering and black, about 5 minutes. Turn chiles over and broil until blistering and black all over, about 5 minutes. Put chiles in a large metal bowl and cover with foil or plastic wrap. Let sit for 30 minutes. Peel the chiles and discard the skins. Cut a slit in the side of each chili. Remove the seeds. Set chiles aside on layers of paper towels to dry.
Preheat the oven to 375°F.
Stuff the chiles with 1 ½ cups of the cheddar and place the chilies in a greased baking dish. Sprinkle each chile with one teaspoon of the flour. Pour the beaten eggs over the stuffed chilies. Sprinkle chiles with the remaining cheese. Bake until the top starts to brown and the eggs are set but still soft, about 30 minutes.
Southwest Poblano Peppers
10-12 large poblano chiles
1 cup diced onion
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 pound ground beef
4 tablespoons taco seasoning
¾ cup of water
2 cups Mexican blend cheese, shredded
Preheat the oven to 350°F.
Cut the poblanos in half and remove the seeds. Grease a large roasting pan and place the peppers in the pan.
Heat olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Sauté the onions until tender. Add the beef and saute until brown. Add the taco seasoning and water. Simmer until most of the liquid is absorbed.
Place a tablespoon or two of seasoned ground beef in each pepper. The amount will depend on each pepper’s size.
Top with the Mexican cheese. Spray aluminum foil with nonstick oil. Cover the pan and bake for 30 minutes. Remove foil and bake 15 minutes longer.
My CSA share has been very generous this summer with peppers, eggplant, and corn. Here are a few ways to use these wonderful summer vegetables.
Italian Fried Peppers
These peppers make an excellent antipasto and also go well as a side dish.
6 Italian frying (sweet banana) peppers
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 large garlic clove smashed and cut in half
1 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning.
Pinch of salt and crushed red pepper flakes
Heat oil and garlic in a saute pan. Lower the heat and add the whole peppers. Sprinkle with the Italian seasoning, salt, and crushed red pepper. Saute slowly until lightly brown on all sides. Serve at room temperature but store in the refrigerator.
For each 1 lb eggplant, you will need:
4 tablespoons olive oil
Salt, black pepper and dried Italian seasoning
1/4 cup panko style breadcrumbs
Large plastic ziplock bag
Preheat oven to 375°F. Cover two large baking pans with parchment paper. Spray each with cooking spray.
Peel eggplant and slice the eggplant lengthwise into 1/4-inch-thick slices (no thicker). You want them to be thin. Put the oil in the ziplock bag and then the eggplant slices. Close the bag and shake to evenly distribute the oil.
Place the eggplant slices on the prepared baking pans. Sprinkle eggplant evenly with salt, black pepper, and Italian seasoning. Sprinkle the panko crumbs over the eggplant slices and spray with cooking spray.
Bake for 20 minutes, then reverse the pans on the oven shelves and bake for 15-20 minutes more or until golden brown. Do not let the eggplant burn or get too dark.
To assemble the casserole, you will need:
Spray an 8 inch or 9 inch or 8-by-11 1/2-inch baking dish with olive oil cooking spray.
Preheat the oven to 375 °F.
2 ½ cups Marinara (pasta) sauce
8-ounces sliced mozzarella cheese
Baked eggplant slices
Spread 1/2 cup of the sauce in the bottom of the prepared baking dish. Arrange a layer of the eggplant slices over the sauce, overlapping slightly. Spoon some of the sauce over the eggplant and layer with slices of mozzarella cheese. Continue layering eggplant slices, sauce and cheese until all is used. Cover the dish with foil and bake until the sauce bubbles, about 25 to 30 minutes. Let rest ten minutes before cutting.
Fresh Corn Griddle Cakes
1 ½ cups cornmeal
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 teaspoons sugar or sugar substitute
1 ½ cups buttermilk
2 eggs, lightly beaten
6 tablespoons melted butter, plus more for greasing the griddle
3 cups freshly shucked corn kernels, from about 4 ears
1 small jalapeño chile, finely chopped, or to taste
3 tablespoons finely sliced scallions
Salsa or Sour Cream, for serving
Stir together cornmeal, all-purpose flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and sugar in a large mixing bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk together buttermilk, eggs, and 6 tablespoons melted butter. Add buttermilk mixture to the cornmeal mixture and mix briefly with a wooden spoon or whisk to obtain a thick batter. Add corn kernels, jalapeño, and scallions and stir to combine.
Set griddle or large cast-iron pan over medium heat. When the griddle is hot, grease lightly with butter, using a folded paper towel or pastry brush. Spoon 1/4 cup batter onto the griddle. Adjust heat as necessary to keep griddle cakes from browning too quickly. Cook for about 1 1/2 minutes, then carefully flip with a spatula and cook for another 1 1/2 minutes.
Serve immediately as soon as griddle cakes are ready or keep warm in a low oven until all the batter is used. To serve, put 3 griddle cakes on a plate. Top with a generous spoonful of salsa or sour cream.
In 2017, approximately 4.4 million Caribbean immigrants resided in the United States, accounting for 10 percent of the nation’s 44.5 million immigrants. With the notable exception of Jamaica, all major Caribbean nations were under direct U.S. political control at some point, which has created incentives and opportunities for the nationals of these islands to migrate to the United States. The first wave of large-scale voluntary migration from the Caribbean to the United States began in the first half of the 20th century and consisted mostly of laborers, including guest workers from the British West Indies program who worked in U.S. agriculture in the mid-1940s, as well as political exiles from Cuba. The migration accelerated in the 1960s when U.S. companies recruited large numbers of English-speaking workers (from laborers to nurses) from former English colonies (e.g., Jamaica). At the same time, political instability in Cuba, Haiti, and the Dominican Republic propelled emigration. The subsequent waves consisted mostly of their family members and working-class individuals. In contrast, skilled professionals have consistently constituted a relatively high share of Jamaican immigrants to the United States. Between 1980 and 2000, the Caribbean immigrant population increased by more than 50 percent every ten years (54 percent and 52 percent, respectively) to reach 2.9 million in 2000. The growth rate declined gradually afterward.
Caribbean cuisine is a fusion of African, Creole, Cajun, Amerindian, European, Latin American, East/North Indian, Middle Eastern, and Chinese. These influences were brought from many different countries when they came to the Caribbean. In addition, the population has created styles that are unique to the region. Ingredients that are common in most islands’ dishes are rice, plantains, beans, cassava, cilantro, bell peppers, chickpeas, tomatoes, sweet potatoes, coconut, and various proteins that are locally available like beef, poultry, pork or fish. A characteristic seasoning for the region is a green herb and oil-based marinade which imparts a flavor profile which is distinctively Caribbean in character. Additional ingredients may include onions, scotch bonnet peppers, celery, green onions, and herbs like cilantro, marjoram, rosemary, tarragon, and thyme. This green seasoning is used for a variety of dishes like curries, stews, and roasted meats.
Traditional dishes are important to island cultures, for example, the local version of Caribbean goat stew has been chosen as the official national dish of Montserrat and is also one of the signature dishes of St. Kitts and Nevis. Another popular dish in the Caribbean is called “Cook-up”, or pelau. Ackee and saltfish is another popular dish that is unique to Jamaica. Callaloo is a dish containing leafy greens and sometimes okra that is known throughout the Caribbean.
The variety of dessert dishes in the area also reflects the mixed origins of the recipes. In some areas, Black Cake, a derivative of English Christmas pudding may be served on special occasions. Black cake is a rich, molasses-spiced cake filled with dried fruits and is a part of Christmas festivities throughout the Caribbean. The cake varies from island to island.
Some Jamaican cuisine dishes are variations on the cuisines and cooking styles brought to the island from elsewhere. These are often modified to incorporate local produce. Others are novel and have developed locally. Popular Jamaican dishes include curry goat, fried dumplings, ackee and saltfish (cod). Jamaican patties and various pastries and bread are also popular as well as fruit beverages and Jamaican rum.
Across America, a new generation of Caribbean-American chefs is taking Caribbean cuisine to new heights, from unique rum bars to fine dining restaurants. These talented chefs are interpreting traditional dishes and ingredients from their grandmother’s kitchen in ways that are unexpected, but always authentic.
Some Caribbean recipes to try at home:
1 tablespoon ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Combine all the ingredients in a small bowl or jar.
Roasted Chicken with Jerk Seasoning
Jerk seasoning rub, recipe above
1/4 cup olive oil
2 large bone-in chicken breasts, cut in half, and 3-4 large bone-in thighs
2 teaspoons Kosher salt
Preheat the oven to 400°F. Mix oil and 3 tablespoons spice rub in a small bowl Reserve remaining rub for later. Rub chicken with jerk spice mixture; season with salt. Place the chicken in a covered container and marinate overnight.
Caribbean Sweet Potato Bake
Makes 6 servings
3 cups cooked, mashed sweet potatoes (2 pounds)
2 eggs, slightly beaten
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup melted butter
2 tablespoons dark rum
Grated peel and juice from 1 lime
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
2 bananas, peeled and diced
Combine the mashed sweet potatoes with eggs, brown sugar, butter, rum, lime peel, juice and nutmeg in a mixing bowl. Beat until well blended.
Spoon into a shallow baking dish, place the sliced bananas around the top of the sweet potato mixture and spray with nonstick cooking spray.
Bake at 400°F for 30 minutes. Garnish with chopped parsley.
Callaloo is a popular Caribbean vegetable dish that is widely known throughout the Caribbean and has a distinctively Caribbean origin.
Recipes vary across the region, depending on the availability of local vegetables. The main ingredient is an indigenous green leaf called amaranth.
Callaloo, in Trinidad & Tobago and other eastern Caribbean countries, is generally made with okra and dasheen or water spinach. Variations may include coconut milk, crab, conch, Caribbean lobster, meats, pumpkin, chili peppers, and other seasonings or spices. The ingredients are added and simmered down to a somewhat stew-like consistency. When cooked, callaloo is dark green in color and is served as a side dish.
In Jamaica, callaloo is often combined with saltfish and is usually seasoned with tomatoes, onions, scallions, scotch bonnet peppers and cooking oil. It is often eaten with roasted breadfruit, boiled green bananas, and dumplings. It is a popular breakfast dish.
In Grenada, callaloo is steamed with onion and coconut milk and is eaten as a side dish. Grenadians also stir or blend the mixture until it has a smooth texture. Callaloo soup comprising callaloo, okra, dumplings, yam, potato, chicken and beef is traditionally eaten on Saturdays. It is also one of the most important ingredients in Oil Down, the island’s National Dish, that is comprised of steamed breadfruit, callaloo, yam, carrot and several varieties of meat or fish. All of this is steamed in coconut milk and saffron powder.
In the Virgin Islands, callaloo is served with a dish of fungee (mushrooms) on the side. In Guadeloupe, “calalou au crabe” (crab callaloo) is a traditional Easter dish.
4 cups callaloo, chopped and tightly packed
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 small onion, chopped
2 green onions, chopped
2 sprigs thyme
1 medium tomato, chopped
Salt to taste
1 Scotch Bonnet (hot) pepper, whole or 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 tablespoons water
Remove the small branches with leaves from the main stem and submerge the callaloo into a bowl of cold water. Let soak for a minute and remove, discarding the water. Repeat 2 more times. Finely chop the leaves and branches and set aside. Place oil in a large pot, add onions, thyme, tomato, and scotch bonnet pepper on medium heat, saute; until onion is translucent. Add callaloo and water, allow to simmer on low heat for 5-10 minutes or until tender.
In Italian, “torta” simply means a sweet or savory cake. A traditional Italian torta usually includes ricotta cheese, parmesan, parsley, and onions. There are also variations that contain meat and some that are completely vegetarian. These vegetarian tortes sometimes contain artichokes and herbs for flavor. This torta is made in a springform pan instead of a traditional pie pan.
I have made potato tortes many times through the years, but this summer, not only did I have an abundance of potatoes but also an abundance of yellow squash from my CSA share. So I thought why not combine them. Turned out delicious. Serve with a mixed green salad and if you want a side of meat, grilled sausage would be good. This torte also makes an excellent antipasto course. Serve at room temperature cut into thin wedges.
Summer Squash and Potato Torta
1 green onion, finely minced
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 1/2 pounds small red potatoes, peeled, cut into 1/8-inch-thick rounds
1 1/2 pounds yellow crookneck squash, cut into 1/8-inch-thick rounds
3 tablespoons olive oil
Preheat oven to 375°F.
Butter an 8-inch springform pan. Wrap the outside of the pan in heavy-duty foil.
In a mixing bowl combine the green onion, Parmesan cheese, flour, Italian seasoning, garlic powder, salt, and pepper.
Layer 1/2 of the potatoes in concentric circles in the bottom of the prepared pan, overlapping slightly. Sprinkle with 1/4 of the cheese mixture.
Layer 1/2 of the squash slices in concentric circles on top of the potatoes/cheese mixture. Sprinkle with 1/4 of the cheese mixture. Repeat with a second layer of the potatoes, cheese mixture, squash slices and cheese mixture. Drizzle the olive oil over the top Cover the pan tightly with foil. Bake until the potatoes are almost tender, 90 minutes. Remove the foil; bake uncovered until the torte begins to brown and potatoes are tender, about 90 minutes longer.
Place the pan on a wire rack and let cool to room temperature. Remove the sides of the pan and place a serving plate on top. Turn the torte over and remove the pan bottom. Cut the torte into wedges to serve.
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 small country bread or boule, cut into 1-inch cubes (6 cups)
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 small clove garlic, grated
11/2 lbs ripe, meaty tomatoes, cut into 1/2-inch dice (about 3-1/2 cups)
Half an English cucumber, unpeeled, seeded and cut into 1/2-inch dice (about 1-1/2 cups)
1 red bell pepper, seeded and cut into 1-inch cubes
1 yellow bell pepper, seeded and cut into 1-inch cubes
1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
3 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
3 tablespoons chopped fresh mint
2 tablespoons capers, drained and rinsed
For the vinaigrette:
1 teaspoon grated garlic
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
3 tablespoons Champagne vinegar
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
For the bread preparation:
Heat the oil in a large saute pan. Add the bread cubes and a sprinkle of salt; cook over low to medium heat, tossing frequently, for 10 minutes, or until nicely browned. Add more oil as needed.
For the vinaigrette:
Whisk all the ingredients together in a small bowl and set aside.
For the salad:
In a large bowl, mix the tomatoes, cucumber, red pepper, yellow pepper, red onion, basil, mint, and capers. Add the bread cubes and toss with the vinaigrette. Season liberally with salt and pepper. Serve, or allow the salad to sit for about half an hour for the flavors to blend.
Italian Style Grilled Tuna
For 2-3 servings
12 oz fresh tuna fillets (albacore and yellowfin, 1/2-inch thick, cut into serving pieces
1/2 lemon, zested
1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary leaves
1 tablespoon chopped flat-leaf parsley
1 clove garlic, grated
1/2 tablespoon each of coarse salt and coarse black pepper
Extra-virgin olive oil, for coating the tuna
Combine the lemon zest, herbs, garlic, salt and pepper in a small bowl.
Drizzle olive oil over the tuna fillet and rub the herb and garlic mixture into the fish, coating evenly on all sides. Let stand 10 minutes.
Heat an outdoor grill or a stovetop grill pan.
Grill tuna steaks 4-5 minutes on each side over medium-high heat. Serve with the salad.
Pasta With Chicken Meatballs In A Fresh Tomato Sauce
Using chicken for the meatballs is a good choice in making this recipe since I think they make for a lighter meatball that compliments this delicate sauce.
8 ounces spaghetti or fettuccine
1 1/2 pounds ripe cherry tomatoes, quartered
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon of sea salt
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra for serving
Warm Italian-style chicken meatballs, recipe below
1/2 cup chopped fresh basil
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup grated Pecorino-Romano cheese
If you can, prepare the tomatoes several hours in advance.
Combine tomatoes, garlic, salt, black pepper and olive oil in a pasta serving bowl. Set aside for several hours to help develop the flavor.
Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add salt and cook the pasta according to package directions for al dente. Drain.
.Add the warm meatballs and basil to the tomato mixture and toss to coat. Add the pasta and toss with the meatball mixture. And a few drizzles of olive oil. Top with the cheeses and serve.
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoons red bell peppers minced
2 tablespoons onion minced
1/4 cup panko breadcrumbs
2 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1 garlic minced
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 pound ground (organic) chicken
Heat the olive oil in a nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the peppers and onions and saute for 3-5 minutes or until softened. Cool to room temperature.
Mix the peppers and onions with the breadcrumbs, cheese, egg, garlic, salt, pepper, oregano, and crushed red pepper flakes.
Add the meat and combine. Do not over mix, but be sure seasonings are well dispersed.
Coat a baking sheet with rimmed edges with non-stick spray or line with heavy-duty foil and roll meatballs into 1-inch balls. Place on the prepared pan and bake at 400 degrees F for 25 minutes. Keep warm while the pasta is prepared.