We bought 45 pounds of red peppers at the last two Bank St. markets from Dennis at Blue Dog Family Farm. These were ones that were either too small to sell or had some minor imperfection, and since otherwise they’d have gone to waste, he was happy to give us a deal on them. Most will get deseeded, sliced into two or three pieces, jammed into Ziploc bags, and stuck in the freezer. When thawed they’ll be too mushy to eat raw, but my son likes the crunch of frozen ones, and they’ll still be great for cooking, so we’ll have no problem using this many up over the next few months. Plus since we keep our house pretty cold during the winter, every time we look at the $6+/lb. peppers at the store this winter, our smugness will warm us up just a little.
Forty-five pounds (plus a few more from some other growers) is more than we normally get, so this is a year to experiment a little. Once pepper-child is in bed tonight, I’m going to hit the cookbooks to see what preserved (possibly pickled) pepper recipes I can find that look good, but I already tried one new thing, a red pepper sauce, some of which will keep the bags of peppers company in the freezer through the winter. For this I roasted about 5 pounds of the peppers, ran them through the food mill to get the seeds and skin out, added the pepper paste to a mirepoix, and then used the immersion blender to puree it all together. Rich, slightly bitter, absolutely delicious on its own but ready to receive any number of spice combinations.
John at Tanstaafl had savoy cabbages at the market this week that were so large they looked like someone had inserted a needle and inflated them, and I couldn’t pass them up.
Saturday night I halved and roasted one until it softened and the outer leaves got brown and crinkly and thin as old paper, like an anorexic kale chip. I cut each cabbage half in half, slid the steaming quarters onto plates alongside polenta cooked in rich homemade chicken stock, poured on a modest amount of the pepper sauce, sprinkled some capers and the last of our fresh basil over everything, and finished it all with some grated pecorino-romano. A quick salad of zucchini threads with parsley, oil and vinegar on the side to cut the richness, and humble cabbage and would-have-gone-to-waste peppers became a savory mid-fall feast.