Thursday, June 28, 2012

Roasting Peppers

As a married couple, my husband and I often have to delegate jobs to each other. This makes our expectations of each other quite clear. Although once in a while we do things that are out of our "job descriptions." For one... is the cooking. That is generally left to me.  Sometimes, my husband wants to cook and I let him, because he is a great cook, but also because he enjoys doing certain tasks in the kitchen that I don't. One of them is roasting peppers. That is his job! The purchasing of peppers, grilling on the fire, cleaning up and peeling is his pleasure. Lucky for me. I sit back and enjoy the ride.

This post is about roasting peppers. I can tell you, that once you taste these peppers, you will find ways to enjoy them in any dish. Roasting softens the intense flavor of pepper, bringing out their earthy, smoky goodness. 

The method here uses an open flame - either from a gas stove or a grill. Roasting peppers until the skins are blistered and black also makes pulling off their skins as easy as peeling off a piece of tin foil. Use fresh, firm peppers for roasting and choose peppers with smooth and unblemished skins. Arrange peppers over the gas stove or on a grill. Cook, turning to roast evenly, until skin is blistering and blackened on as much of the peppers as possible. If you have a lot of peppers, this can easily be done in batches.
Transfer roasted peppers to a large bowl and cover tightly with aluminum foil, or plastic wrap. Let peppers sit at least 15 minutes or until cool enough to handle. This allows the peppers to cool so you won't burn yourself peeling them, continues to soften the peppers, and steams them a bit which helps separate the skin and the flesh of the peppers and makes them easier to peel.
Working with one pepper at a time, peel off and discard blackened skin. The skins should come off very easily.  You can see my husband, Mervin is gently scathing away at the skin like a surgeon. A fork to hold the pepper in place and a knife to skin.
Continue peeling until all skin is removed. You can now also easily pull out the stem.

Roasted and peeled peppers can now be used in recipes or put in resealable plastic bags and frozen where they will keep up to six months. I use them rather quickly so store there in a glass container with a lid and drench in olive oil.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Quinoa and Swiss Chard with Parmesan

Short of 2 weeks ago, my CSA started up for the season. This is my 4th year hosting the Great Neck, Long Island site (uhmm... that I started- bragging rights). Happy to say that over the years there has been an overwhelming response to the CSA in Great Neck, that it had to spill over to another site close by. Although there is less traffic in my garage, which is where my makeshift CSA is, I at least get to know everyone in my group on a more personal basis.

Typical of crops that grow well in the late spring, is the Swiss Chard- which made it's first appearance the first week of the CSA. It contains a lot of fiber, and a host of antioxidant vitamins. It is a tall leafy green vegetable with a thick, crunchy stalk that comes in a fuchsia stem with wide fan-like green leaves. Chard belongs to the same family as beets and spinach and shares a similar taste profile: it has the bitterness of beet greens and the slightly salty flavor of spinach leaves. Both the leaves and stalk of chard are edible. I decided to cook it with quinoa, which is a complete protein and makes a fulfilling and satisfying dish that could last for a couple of meals. Cremini mushrooms are added, also known as the "younger" portobello mushroom, for a hearty and meaty chew against the nutty quinoa.

Serves 4


1 cup quinoa, rinsed
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 pound Swiss Chard, stems and leaves cut into 1/2 inch pieces, rinsed well
Coarse  Sea Salt and freshly ground pepper
Pinch of red pepper flakes
1 garlic clove, minced
12 ounces cremini mushrooms, sliced thin
2 teaspoons fresh thyme
1/2 ounce Parmesan cheese, shaved


  1. Cook quinoa according to package instructions. Meanwhile heat 1 teaspoon oil in a skillet over medium heat. Cook Swiss Chard, stirring until wilted and tender, about 8 minutes. Sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon salt and season with pepper. Add pepper flakes and toss. Transfer to a platter.
  2. Add remaining 2 teaspoons oil and the garlic to skillet. Cook over medium heat, stirring until garlic is slightly golden, about 1 minute. Add mushrooms, and cook stirring occassionally, until they release their juices, about 3 minutes. Sprinkle with 3/4 teaspoon salt and pepper to taste. Continue to cook until mushrooms are tender, about 5 minutes. Stir in cooked quinoa; cook to heat, about 1 minute and add thyme. Serve the mushroom-quinoa mixture over the Swiss chard, topped with parmesan.

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