Peppers spice up these 5 recipes from Alabama chefs

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Peppers are a great way to add color, flavor and nutrition to a variety of foods, says Sheree Taylor, regional humanities adviser for the Alabama Cooperative Extension System.

“They’re low in calories and explode in flavor,” she says. “Peppers can be crunchy, sweet, or hot.” Not to mention, they come in green, red, orange, or yellow, and sometimes a little bit of all four.

All colors of pepper have nutritional benefits, Taylor says, but red peppers actually have higher antioxidant and phytonutrient levels because they’re riper. They also provide more potassium, vitamin C and folic acid.

But all peppers are nutritious and easy to add to any meal. “People can eat them sliced, raw, grilled, sautéed, or fried. When preparing food with peppers, keep in mind that boiling or cooking can result in a loss of 50% of the nutrients,” advises Taylor. Rather than boiling or steaming, she recommends dry heat methods like stir-frying or frying.

“Not only can peppers add color to our plates, they can also add flavor,” says Taylor. “They’re packed with nutrients and can be incorporated in a way that satisfies the desires of all taste buds.”


Stuffed peppers

Like many of us, Louis Toth remembers watching his mother and grandmother cook meals growing up. “They never wrote anything down,” he says, so with his technical background he recreated these childhood favorites and adapted them in Arabic to suit his tastes and those of his son’s family, where Toth moved after retiring from his job had retired in New Jersey. His grandparents emigrated from Hungary, where dishes like stuffed peppers and stuffed cabbage were staples. His stuffed pepper recipe calls for ground beef, which yields a sweeter flavor than traditional ground beef. He also cooks his peppers on the stove, not in the oven. “I like the pork,” he says, and so do his granddaughters, who are happy to help their grandfather in the kitchen. “I also like to make meatballs with a mixture of ground beef and pork. That makes a difference in taste.”

ingredients

  • 7 medium green peppers (you can use other peppers)
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 cup raw long grain white rice
  • 2 28-ounce cans of tomato sauce
  • 2 cups whole milk or half and half (or more for a creamier sauce)
  • 2 cups water (to adjust the thickness of the sauce)
  • 1 tablespoon of sweet Hungarian paprika
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt

instructions

Place rice in a colander and rinse with cold water. Bring a large pot of water (enough to completely cover the raw rice and allow it to expand during cooking) to a boil. Add rinsed rice, bring to boil again, then reduce heat to gently par-cook rice for 10 minutes; Strain the rice, rinse with cold water and leave to cool. Cut the top off the peppers and carefully scrape out the seeds and skin. In a large bowl, whisk together the tomato sauce, milk, and water. In another large bowl, gently mix together pork, cooled rice, paprika, salt and ½ cup of the mixed sauce. Fill the peppers with the meat mixture, ¾ full (mixture will expand slightly as it cooks). Place the stuffed peppers upright in a tall stockpot or 5½ liter Dutch Oven. Pour the remaining sauce mixture gently over the peppers to coat them. (If you have leftover filling, you can shape it into meatballs and add them to the saucepan.) Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer, cover and cook 45 minutes. To Serve: Place a pepper in a serving bowl and scoop some sauce over the peppers. Serve with white or rye bread.

Louis dead


Kelsey Rumler’s Stuffed Pepper Bowl blends a variety of spices and ingredients into a savory dish that puts a twist on tradition. (Brooke Echols / Life in Alabama)

Filled pepper bowl

ingredients

  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 2 cups rice, cooked
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 4 peppers, chopped
  • 8 ounces mushrooms, chopped
  • 1 15-ounce can diced tomatoes, drained
  • ½-1 cup beef broth or water
  • 1 15-ounce can black beans (optional)
  • ½ cup shredded cheddar cheese or more to taste
  • 2 teaspoons chilli powder
  • 2 teaspoons cumin
  • 2 teaspoons smoked paprika powder
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon coriander
  • ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • salt and pepper to taste

instructions

Cook rice according to package instructions. Fry the beef in the pan until done. Drain and set aside. Heat oil in pan over medium heat. Add onion and sauté for about five minutes. Add bell peppers and cook until almost tender, about seven minutes. Add mushrooms, tomatoes, cooked beef, broth (or water), black beans if using, and spices. Bring to a boil, cover and reduce heat to simmer for 20 minutes. Add more broth if it gets too dry. Remove from stove. Stir in cheddar cheese until melted. Serve immediately over rice. Note: Depending on the temperature of the pan or other factors, you may need more or less broth.

Kelsey Rumler


Kirk Vantrease’s Raspberry Cream Cheese Jalapeño Peppers combine jalapeños, crispy bacon, cream cheese and canned raspberries. (Brooke Echols / Life in Alabama)

Raspberry Cream Cheese Jalapeño Peppers

ingredients

  • 9 jalapenos
  • 4 ounces soft cream cheese
  • ¼ cup raspberry jam
  • 18 slices of bacon

instructions

Halve the jalapeños lengthways and scrape the seeds and ribs from the peppers. Combine raspberry jam and soft cream cheese. Fill each pepper boat with cream cheese and raspberry jam. Wrap each pepper in bacon and place on a baking pan. Preheat the grill to 350 degrees and place the peppers on the indirect side of the grill for 30 minutes, until the bacon is crisp and the cheese is bubbly.

Kirk Vantrease


Pan with peppers and onions

ingredients

  • 1 pound ground beef or turkey
  • ½ yellow, green and red peppers, chopped
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 zucchini squash, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon cooking oil
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • ¼ teaspoon pepper
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder

instructions

Boil and drain meat, then sauté chopped greens for 10-15 minutes. Add a tablespoon of oil, add meat with spices and cook for 10 minutes.

Gives Dodd


This Mediterranean-style dish by Brooke Burks of The Buttered Home is light but flavorful. (The Buttered Home)

Sheet Pan Mediterranean Chicken and Vegetables

ingredients

  • 3-4 8-ounce chicken breasts or fillets
  • 1 zucchini, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 1 yellow squash, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 1-2 bell peppers, sliced, any color
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon pepper
  • ¼-½ cup crumbled feta cheese
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 2 tablespoons minced garlic
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice

instructions

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Place the chicken on one end of a sheet pan (parchment paper optional). Dice and prepare vegetables and place in a large bowl. Drizzle the chicken and vegetables with a little olive oil and season lightly with salt and pepper. Arrange the vegetables next to the chicken on the sheet pan, making sure they are in a single layer.

Bake in the oven for 35-40 minutes, checking often to see if you want to stir vegetables or turn chicken. The chicken is ready when it has reached an internal temperature of 160-165 degrees. Leave to rest before serving.

While the chicken and vegetables are baking, gather the ingredients for the dressing. In a medium bowl, mix together the chopped garlic, lemon juice, oregano, and olive oil. Whisk well. When egg whites and veggies are done, arrange on a serving platter, if desired. Just before serving, drizzle the dressing over the chicken and vegetables and garnish with feta cheese.

Brooke Burks, The Buttered Home

This story originally appeared in Alabama Living magazine.

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