Chile Campana/Bell Pepper/Capsicum Annuum

Yum-O! Stuffed pepper’s cooking!
I love Rachel Ray… and I love her Yum-o cooking. I’ve been a fan of Ray’s since day one and continue to enjoy 30 Minute Meals and her magazine on a regular basis. That’s why I chose these recipes from her favorite summer entertaining menu.

Capsicum Annuum are native to Central and South America. Pepper seeds were later carried to Spain in 1493 and from there spread to other European and Asian countries. Bell peppers, like all peppers, belong to a large group of plants known as the nightshade family, which also includes potatoes, tomatoes, and eggplant. Bell peppers are in the same genus as hot peppers but bell peppers however, have a recessive gene that eliminates their capsaicin, the substance that fuels the hot pepper’s fire. The misleading name “pepper” (pimiento in Spanish) was given by Christopher Columbus upon bringing the plant back to Europe. At that time peppercorns (black pepper, Piper nigrum) were a highly prized condiment. Bell peppers can be found in a rainbow of colors and can vary in flavor.

Cultivars of the plant produce fruits in different colors, including red, yellow, orange and green. Bell peppers are sometimes grouped with less pungent pepper varieties as “sweet peppers”. Sweet peppers are plump, bell-shaped vegetables featuring either three or four lobes. They usually range in size from 2 to 5 inches in diameter, and 2 to 6 inches in length. Inside the thick flesh is an inner cavity with edible bitter seeds and a white spongy core. Bell peppers are not ‘hot’. They contain a recessive gene that eliminates capsaicin, the compound responsible for the ‘hotness’ found in other peppers.

Bell peppers are packed with several nutrients. They are a good source of vitamin C, thiamine, vitamin B6, beta carotene, and folic acid. Bell peppers also contain a large amount of phytochemicals that have exceptional antioxidant activity. Those phytochemicals include chlorogenic acid, zeaxanthin, and coumeric acid. When comparing the nutrient values of the different bell peppers, studies have shown that red bell peppers have significantly higher levels of nutrients than green. The variety of the pepper plant and the stage of the ripeness determine the flavor and color of each pepper.

Red bell peppers contain eleven times more beta carotene than green bell peppers. Bell peppers are a versatile vegetable and can be used in stir-fries, casseroles and omelets. They are not generally served by themselves except on a vegetable tray. You might be surprised to learn that there are actually more than 200 different types of peppers. Jalapenos are a pod type of Capsicum Annuum originating in Mexico. Named after Jalapa (Xalapa), the capital of Veracruz, Mexico, these smooth, dark green (scarlet red when ripe) chiles range from hot to very hot. Its name actually is in Nahualt, the language of the Aztecs and Spanish origin. The Jalapeno is very versatile and is used fresh, roasted, filled, as well as pickled. In their dried form, jalapenos are known as Chipotles.

Slow-Cooker Tri Color Stuffed Peppers

3 large bell peppers, red, green and yellow
3 carrots, thinly diced
1 cup crumbled feta (4 ounces)
1/2 cup rice
4 scallions, white and green parts separated, thinly sliced
1 garlic clove, minced
1 teaspoon dried oregano
Coarse salt and ground pepper.

Slice a very thin layer from the base of each bell pepper so they sit flat. Slice off tops just below stem. Discard stems; chop tops, and place in a medium bowl. Remove ribs and seeds from peppers. To bowl, add carrots, feta, rice, scallion whites, garlic, and oregano. Season with salt and pepper, and toss to combine. Stuff peppers with the mixture; place upright in slow cooker. Cover; cook on high, 4 hours. Sprinkle peppers with scallion greens; serve with Huancaina sauce (optional).

Note: To make in the oven: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Use a 5-quart Dutch oven or ovenproof pot with a tight-fitting lid; add 1 cup water. Cover; bake until peppers are tender, about 1 hour.

Grilled Stuffed Jalapenos

12 jalapenos (I tried to get the largest ones I could find)
6-ounces of low fat cream cheese at room temperature
1/2 cup shredded Mexican blend cheese (I bought the one with jalapenos!)
1 garlic clove grated
3/4 cup canned black beans, rinsed
1/2 cup roughly chopped cilantro (and a touch more for serving)
2 teaspoons lime juice
Salt and Pepper

Halve your peppers lengthwise and remove the seeds and white membrane. (see pics below). Lay on a platter and set aside. In a large bowl mix your cream cheese, shredded cheese, grated garlic, salt and pepper. Add your black beans and cilantro, gently fold, careful not to crush all your black beans. Using a small spoon or scoop, fill your peppers. I don’t like to overfill them because when they get on the grill the stuffing goes everywhere and you lose it all.

Preheat your grill for 5-10 minutes. Place your peppers on a grill rack or grill grate coated with cooking spray. Place on your grill and cook (covered) for about 8 minutes. Keep an eye on your peppers so they don’t burn. Place on your serving platter and sprinkle with chopped cilantro.

Chilli Willy Pepper

Oh, My Gosh!! When I saw this picture I just “cracked up” laughing!!

You may think that the Chilli Willy peppers are genetically modified. Well, No they’re not. This true garden porno have each fold and wrinkle completely natural and unique to the species! Used for its decorative as well as culinary uses, this versatile plant can spice up any living room as well as a curry dish. The pepper itself is known for its incredibly hot taste. Coming from the same family as the Tabasco and Jalapeno Peppers, the Chilli Willy Pepper is 10 times hotter than the Jalapeno and 10 times more amusing to look at! Thus,  the plants themselves are very rare and traditionally the seeds were handed down from private collections.

About zoom50

“It’s amazing how people can get so excited about a rocket to the moon and not give a damn about smog, oil leaks, the devastation of the environment with pesticides, hunger, disease”
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4 Responses to Chile Campana/Bell Pepper/Capsicum Annuum

  1. akamonsoon says:

    Thanks for the history of the pepper! I had no idea that they came originally from S. America. It would make sense though. I learned also awhile back that Spaniards brought rice back from the Orient and that is how we got Spanish rice. Interesting stuff!

  2. zoom50 says:

    Thanks for visiting! Yes, bell peppers are the oldest domesticated plants. And this fruit got its start in Mesoamerica. About the Rice, you’re absolutely right. Rice is not native to the Americas but was introduced to the Caribbean, Mexico and South America by Spanish colonizers in the 1520s.

  3. Aussie Emjay says:

    We grew 25 different peppers this year – I had a fabulous crop and ended up blanching and freezing many and gave heaps away.

  4. zoom50 says:

    We grew some jalapeno peppers too. My daughter (she lives in Miami) gave me a few jalapeno plants. I love to eat them. But I have to find a variety that grows to maturity in a relatively short period of time because our “hot part of the summer” is very brief here.

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