Really Easy Roasted Ratatouille

Ratatouille is a Provencal specialty that’s a classic way to use a garden’s summer bounty of eggplant, tomatoes, zucchini and bell pepper. In culinary school, I was taught to saute each vegetable separately, and then simmer them all together. That’s too much work. In this ratatouille recipe, everything is tossed together in one pan and roasted until the vegetables are tender and slightly caramelized. Serve the ratatouille hot, at room temperature or cold as a side dish, tossed with pasta, atop pizza or grilled bread, or even tucked into a quesadilla.



Sauteed Succotash with Corn and Summer Squash

This succotash recipe is a perfect example of how much bang for your buck you can get with just a little bit of butter. In this case, it draws out the rich, velvety flavors in the corn and summer squash for a luscious, easy side dish.


Fresh At the Farmers’ Market: Pick a Pack of Bell Peppers

Sweet bell peppers always seem to be around–and to some degree, they are. You can find them at the supermarket year-round. But this is their peak season, when they ripen in home gardens and flood farmers’ market stands.

With their iconic bell shape and primary hues ranging from green to red, yellow, and orange (you’ll even find shades of purple), these peppers are the workhorses of the kitchen. We reach for them whenever we want to add a little crunch to a slaw or a dash of color to a stir-fry.

I confess that while I appreciate their sunny palette, mild flavor, and lovely texture, I usually make bells play second fiddle to the fiery glamour of their hot chile pepper cousins. That’s too bad, because they deserve the spotlight. Bell peppers certainly pack an impressive nutritional punch. A red bell has nearly twice as much vitamin C as a navel orange; orange and yellow peppers have even more.


As with any produce, you want bell peppers that are brightly colored, unblemished, and firm with thick flesh. Green bell peppers are, basically, unripened versions and taste less sweet (some say, bitter) than red, orange, or yellow peppers. Which variety to use depends on what you want in terms of flavor and color.


You can recruit bell peppers to add a background note to all manner of dishes or make them the star attraction (they’ll enjoy the spotlight). Some ideas:

  • An aromatic base: Just as mirepoix (chopped onion, carrot, and celery) is the basis of many French dishes, Louisiana cooks rely on their “trinity” of green bell peppers, celery, and onion as a key ingredient in Cajun and Creole dishes like gumbo and jambalaya.  A version of Italian soffrito calls for sauteing minced green bell pepper, celery, onion, and garlic in olive oil as the first step in many recipes.
  • As a vessel: Stuffed peppers are a standby dinner in many households. Just cut off the top, discard the seeds and stems, and stuff them with a filling (a combo of browned lean ground beef and cooked brown rice or quinoa would work; so would our Easy Rice Pilaf). Bake your stuffed peppers at 350 F for about 15 minutes.
  • In a hot dish: Sure, temperatures are soaring now, but cooler evenings aren’t far off. Bell peppers play very nicely in cozy chilis and curries, like Kurt’s Iowa City Chili and Lia’s Pumpkin Curry.
  • In a sauce or side: To try bell peppers paired with deliciously complex Aztec flavors, make Lia’s Grilled Onions with Chile-Nut Puree. Our Sweet Pepper Confit shows off a variety of red, yellow, and orange peppers cooked over low heat until they’re meltingly tender for a condiment that works as well on sandwiches as it does sausages.

My version of Spanish romesco sauce here puts roasted red bell peppers front and center in a versatile sauce that’s starring in lots of meals at our house this week–pasta, pizza, a dipper for grilled shrimp … give it a try and let us know how you end up using it.

Roasted Red Pepper Romesco Sauce

Romesco sauce is delicious staple of Spanish cuisine. Our version of Catalonian tomato-red pepper romesco sauce boosts the ratio of roasted bell peppers. There are lots of ways to roast peppers and other items. Lia likes to do it on the stovetop in a comal (a flat griddle pan). You can also throw them on a hot grill (especially good and smoky if you add soaked wood chips to the coals or a smoker box), or use a pair of tongs to hold peppers over the open flame of a gas stove. Since this recipe calls for roasting a fairly large volume, we pop ‘em under the broiler. However you do it, the result is a simple, smoky romesco sauce that you can serve with grilled bread as an appetizer; as a condiment with fish, poultry, or meat; tossed with pasta; or even on pizza in place of traditional tomato sauce. It may just end up being your new all-purpose sauce.


VIDEO: Dicing a Bell Pepper

Watch this KTVC cooking video, in which NOURISH Evolution founder Lia Huber demonstrates how to dice a bell pepper. It’s a simple cooking tip that will help you save time in the kitchen.

NOURISH Evolution Kitchen Tips: Dicing a Bell Pepper from Lia Huber on Vimeo.

Sweet Pepper Confit

There are many versions of sweet pepper confit, from Sicilian peperonata to Basque piperade. Summer vegetable confits, like this one are exceptionally versatile in the kitchen; the ultimate summer convenience food. Serve them on grilled bread as an appetizer or as a side dish with our Spice-Rubbed Skirt Steak or Pesto-Rubbed Butterflied Grilled Chicken.