What is she going to do with all the peppers that she picked?



Every spring, my husband and I load up on banana pepper and green pepper plants. They’re so pretty. They’re so abundant. 

But, alas. The dirty little gardening secret in my house is that no one really likes peppers all that much.

So now I’m staring at a bounteous bowl of waxy yellow and pale-green peppers, wondering how in the world I’m going to use them. In years’ past, I’ve tucked them into crab cakes and potato salad, but those dishes call for only 1 or 2 peppers — not the pounds I’ve picked. I’ve charred peppers in past seasons for freezing, but they’ve ended up languishing behind the ice cream and peas. One year I just stashed them in the vegetable bin (where they turned to mush).

This year, however, I am determined to use — and eat — the peppers that I’ve picked. A riff on green salsa sounds good: Something smoky and spicy and tangy, with notes of cilantro and lemon. Something we’ll use as a sandwich spread, an enchilada topping, a chicken marinade or a salsa for chips and vegetables. Something that isn’t too taxing to make and that will make short work of my overflowing pepper bowl.

Here’s what I came up with, using just my peppers and a few pantry staples. Oven-charring turns the peppers slightly sweet. Cumin, chili powder and the peppers’ seeds give heat. Garlic and red onion give spice.

Only about an hour passed from picking the peppers to slathering the salsa on a sandwich of turkey, cheese & rye. But best of all? My overflowing bowl of banana and green peppers yielded about 2 cups of salsa. We’re sure to eat it quickly … and be set to pick another peck of piquant peppers in no time!


Banana & Green Pepper Salsa

Heat oven to broiling.

Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil and spray with non-stick cooking spray. Spread out whole peppers, 1/2 a roughly shopped red onion, 5 large peeled garlic cloves and 1/3 cup cilantro (leaves & stems). Toss with 1/3 cup olive oil, salt and pepper.

Broil until the peppers are charred, stirring every 5-10 minutes. (This takes 20-30 minutes, depending on the size of your peppers.) Remove from oven and cool slightly.

Pull the stems off the peppers, and place them in a food processor. Add the onion, garlic & cilantro from the baking sheet, along with 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin, 1/4 teaspoon chili powder and the juice of a small lemon or lime.

Process until the salsa is the way you like it … smooth or slightly chunky. Taste. Add 1 teaspoon red wine vinegar and about 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt to brighten everything up. If you want more heat, add a bit more cumin and chili powder.

Serve warm or chill in the refrigerator.