Bell Peppers

Illustrations by John BurgoynePhoto: Boru O'Brien O'Connell

Hot chiles get all the glory this time of year, but sweet bell peppers have their fans, too. One such is Salumeria Rosi’s Cesare Casella, who recommends choosing peppers that have smooth, shiny, wrinkle-free skins with some heft and body. Another shopping tip: Red, orange, and yellow peppers are riper and sweeter than the green, brown, purple, and white specimens. People who say they don’t like peppers, according to Alice Waters, are simply people who haven’t tasted a fully ripe one.

Cesare Casella’s Farrotto con Peperoni

2 cups bell peppers
7 cups vegetable stock
2 tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 dried or oil-marinated Calabrian chile (available at BuonItalia)
1/2 small red onion, chopped
1 cup pearled farro
1/4 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano, grated
2 tbs. parsley, chopped
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1/2 cup radicchio, julienned

(1) Trim the ends of the peppers. (2) Cut out the core and seeds, and remove any remaining ribs. (3) Dice and reserve. Heat the vegetable stock in a saucepan, and keep hot over low-medium flame. Heat the olive oil in large sauté pan. Add the garlic and the chile, and cook until lightly toasted. Add the onions, and sweat until slightly soft. Stir in the farro, and cook until the grains are coated with oil and toasted. Add about 2 1/2 cups of stock to the farro, and simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add half the remaining stock, and simmer for 10 minutes. Add the rest of stock, simmer, and stir occasionally, until most of the liquid has been absorbed. Remove the chile and the garlic. Add the diced bell peppers. Season with salt and pepper. Remove pan from heat, and stir in the cheese, parsley, and radicchio. Serves 4 to 6.

Bell Peppers