Summer Fest: Peck of Perfect Peppers

By: Michelle Buffardi
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We're teaming up with other food and garden bloggers to host Summer Fest 2010, a season-long garden party. Each week we'll feature favorite garden-to-table recipes and tips to help you enjoy the bounty, whether you're harvesting your own goodies or buying them fresh from the market. To join in, check out awaytogarden.com.

In celebration of Summer Fest : pepper week, I decided I'd like to pick a peck of peppers, Peter Piper-style. But my peck would be a virtual one, a peck of the best peppers on the web. To do this, I'd first need to figure out what a peck is. Some quick research proved to me that a peck is a customary unit of dry volume, equivalent to 2 gallons, 8 dry quarts, or 16 dry pints.  (And 4 pecks make a bushel.) Turns out that a measure of dry volume doesn't translate as well online as I'd hoped, but in the spirit of a peck, I'll pick 8 of my favorite pepper recipes out there -- one for each gallon. Try to top that, Peter Piper.

Our resident Spice Goddess, Bal Arneson's Indian-spiced Red Pepper soup (shown above) gets its kick from ginger, garam masala and cumin, and is topped with more cumin seeds for added crunch and depth of flavor.

Bell Pepper Egg in a Hole, from Skinnytaste: guess what — not only are these extremely photogenic, but they're really healthy too. (Let me please note that I'd ruin that by a topping of shredded, then melted pepper-jack cheese.) One of the reviewers makes an excellent suggestion; she steams her peppers so they're easier for her kids to eat.

Oh, chiles rellenos. A bit labor-intensive, yes, so worth it. Don't wait till Cinco de Mayo to try these at your favorite Mexican restaurant, as Kevin at ClosetCooking shows us, they're easy to make at home. You'll just have to provide your own complimentary basket of chips and salsa.

No pepper round-up is complete without traditional roasted peppers, and David Rocco's do not disappoint. They're super-easy too — just char on the grill and let rest in a paper bag till the skins slide off, and dress with garlic and olive, and if you like, capers, olives and bread crumbs, like these from David Rocco's Dolce Vida.

Are you smitten with this pepper pizza? Because I am. I am simply in love with SmittenKitchen's Pizza With Red and Yellow Peppers.

I made this Pappardelle With Peperonata and Burrata for a dinner party recently, and my guests couldn't stop raving (and alternately asking what burrata is . . .).  This pasta is an amazing end-of-summer dish and is best served at room temperature so there's no need to fuss or worry about timing it with the other dishes you're serving.

Stuffed peppers: there's no wrong way to stuff a pepper, is there? There's Bal Arneson's or Giada's Orzo-Stuffed Peppers, Mario Batali's Pasta-Stuffed Peppers, and I'm dying to try Anjum Anand's Paneer Stuffed Peppers (yep —  peppers filled with Indian cheese).

And last but not least, can one talk about peppers and not touch on sausage and peppers? Probably not. So how about Giada's Orzo With Sausage and Peppers, Emeril's Chicago-Style Sausage and Pepper Pizza, or another from Emeril, a Cajun-sausage and pepper sub.

Am I missing any of the great pepper dishes? What's your favorite pepper recipe? Let us know here, or on Twitter, #summerfood.

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