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Did you know that peppers are technically a fruit? Most varieties are and the varieties are endless.
What did you bring for lunch when you went to school as a child? Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, fluffernutters, bologna sandwiches; ham sandwiches with cheese? Not this kid!
Picture a tiny version of Sandi taking fried peppers in Italian bread out of her lunch bag. Secretly, this was my favorite lunch, but other children did not understand.
“What’s that? I have never seen that before.” You know how children can be so kind to the kid that is a bit different. A pepper sandwich is one of the lunches that Dot drummed up from her Sicilian “send your kid to school” recipes. Anyway, they were yummy. If they were not so good, I would have been ticked off. I hated being teased by the other kids.
Scoville Heat Unit Scale
The Scoville Heat Unit Scale (SHU) is a way to measure the spiciness of a pepper. There should have a disclaimer on some of these mouth destroying peppers. The scale starts at zero and ends at 16 million units (pure capsaicin.)
Some Common Peppers
Here is a list of some common peppers to use in your kitchen. Hang on to your hats. Some of them are mighty HOT. This list is incomplete because there are so many different species.
Shishito _ These are often roasted and served with olive oil or a sauce as an appetizer. The SHU is 50 to 100 and is tolerable for those who like a little spice.
Banana pepper – Often found in sandwiches, antipastos, and pizza, this is a somewhat mild pepper. It scores 0 – 100 on the SHU.
Sweet Italian Peppers (pepperoncini) Used like a banana pepper but a bit more tangy. It scores 100 – 500 on the SHU.
Pimento pepper – You might know them as cherry peppers. You can use them in a stuffed pepper recipe. (100 – 500 SCU)
Cuban pepper – You can use these to fry. Cook them instead of bell peppers for a completely different flavor. (1000 SCU)
Poblano pepper – An ancho chili. Roasting is a method to cook them. This is the pepper to use in chili relleno. 1,000 to 1,500 Scoville Heat Units (SHU)
Jalepeno – These peppers bring on the HOT. You can find them in chili, soups, and salads. 2,500 to 8,000 Scoville Heat Units (SHU)
There are many more varieties that move up in the SHU. If you are brave, give them a try. Read more.
Do not fret, my friends, we work with the bell pepper 0 on the Scoville Heat Unit Scale. I know there are others out there who love a good hot pepper. The bell pepper is safe, and we don’t have to worry about tears. There is something for everyone in the pepper family.
More varieties move up in the SHU. If you are brave, give them a try. Read more.
I love bell peppers. Frankly, I eat them raw; they are magnificently sweet. The red, green, yellow, and orange colors are colorful for presentation. You can sauté, roast, or stuff these peppers.
Fun fact: Check out the bottom of the pepper and count the lobes. The four lobbed pepper is a female which is sweeter than the male. The three lobed are male and are good for roasting and stuffing.
Stuffed Peppers with Orzo
- 1 can whole Italian tomatoes
- 2 zucchini medium
- ½ cup mint leaves chopped
- ½ cup Romano cheese freshly grated
- ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
- 3 garlic cloves minced
- 1 tsp. salt
- 1 tsp. black pepper freshly ground
- 4 cups chicken broth
- 1½ cups orzo rice shaped pasta
- 6 sweet bell peppers red or yellow
- ½ cup fresh basil for garnish
- Preheat oven to 450°.
- Pour the tomatoes and their juices into a large bowl and then break them into pieces using kitchen shears or your fingers.
- Add the zucchini, mint, cheese, olive oil, garlic, salt, and pepper. Stir to combine.
- Meanwhile, bring the chicken broth to a boil in a medium saucepan over high heat. Add the orzo and cook for 4 minutes. The orzo will be only partially cooked.
- Drain the orzo through a sieve, reserving the chicken broth.
- Add the orzo to the large bowl with the vegetables. Stir to combine.
- Transfer the warm chicken broth to a 3-quart baking dish. Slice the tops off the peppers and remove the interiors.
- If needed, slice a very thin slice from the bottom of the peppers so it they can stand up.
- Spoon the orzo mixture into the peppers.
- Place the peppers in the baking dish with the warm chicken broth. Cover the dish with foil and bake for 45 minutes.
- Remove the foil and sprinkle each pepper with Romano cheese and continue baking until the cheese is golden, about 15 minutes.
- Remove from the oven and carefully transfer the stuffed peppers to serving plate. Garnish with basil.
Old Fanny Farmer Stuffed Pepper Recipe from 1896
The following recipe is taken word for word from Fanny’s original recipe. In many variations, stuffed peppers have been around for a long time.
“Stuffed Peppers I
6 green peppers
3/4 cup hot steamed rice
1/2 cup cold cooked meat cut in small dice
1/3 cup tomatoes stewed and strained
1 tablespoon melted butter
Few drips onion juice
Salt and pepper.
Cut off pieces from stem ends of peppers. Remove seeds and partitions; parboil eight minutes. Fill with rice, meat, tomatoes, and butter, well mixed, and seasoned with onion juice, salt, and pepper. Place in a pan, add one and one-half cups water or stock, and bake forty-five minutes in a moderate oven.
Again, I have taken my inspiration from Giada. There is so much you can do with this recipe. To make them totally vegetarian, substitute the chicken broth for vegetable broth.
To make it gluten free use cauliflower rice or brown rice in the place of orzo.
I love that we can change recipes around to satisfy different tastes and lifestyles. Please try the peppers and let me know what you think in the comments section.