Round, smooth and and glowing, bell peppers are some of the most photogenic veggies at a farmer’s market. But do they share their good looks? They were first discovered by Columbus on his second search for peppercorns of India. These Spanish explorers brought back bell pepper plants from the New World where they grew easily throughout Europe. Its hard to think of a cuisine that does not use bell peppers. Cooked or raw, easy to grow and affordable, bell peppers are not just another pretty face. Red, green, yellow or orange these pepper are packed with first rate nutrition.
Bell Pepper Nutritional Profile: A nice fresh bell pepper has 2-3x the vitamin C payload as an orange. Since vitamin C is the vitamin that has the greatest influence on skin aging, bell peppers can qualify as a beauty food. But wait there’s more. A whole bell pepper has just 27 fat free, sodium free calorie.
Bell peppers can be roast, pureed, stuffed, stir-fried, and stewed. Raw, they can be added to salads, sandwiches, crudite platters or just snacked in strips. Study after study has shown that the biggest health benefits of vitamins and anti-oxidants are found in natrual foods rather than pills and supplements. A red bell pepper has 300% of the RDA for both vitamin C and beta carotene. Yes, they are that good.
One of my favorite bell pepper recipes is adapted from the Rao restaurant cookbook.
Roasted Red Pepper Antipasto
Ingredients: 3 red bell peppers, 2 tablspoons of olive oil,1 tablespoon raisins, 1 tablespoon pine nuts, 1 teaspoon chopped flat leaf parsley
Directions: Cut off the top and bottom of each pepper, slice open and lay flat. Place on tin foil lined cookie sheet and broil until the skin is blistered and blackened. Remove from the grill and when the peppers acool enough to touch, peel off blackened skin. Cut peppers into half inch strips and mix with all the other ingredients. Allow flavors to blend at room temperature for at least an hour. I like to serve these peppers as a light lunch with a wedge of runny brie and a chunk of crusty italian bread. A glass of Pinot Grigio would also not be out of place.