I thought I was being so clever – hording at least one panier post to tide me over (in both blog fodder and reminders of the piles of fresh vegetables would eventually return at the end of the vacances). Turns out I ended up taking a blog vacation of my own, including a few real vacation days during which I fled the cool, grey Paris summer for the sweltering beauty of Italy in August. For the past two weeks, my vegetables have returned and now, ironically, I find myself with a surplus of veggie tales (no, not these kind) to share with all of you.
Conveniently for combinatorial posting, I am currently stuck in a culinary rut; namely, I cannot seem to get my fill of peppers. Lucky for me (or perhaps because of this?), our paniers have been endlessly generous in this regard. Even more exciting is that this has not been restricted to just bell peppers. In the finally-blogged-about late July panier, we received several long, spicy-smelling peppers, very reminiscent of Anaheim chiles.
(First week of August)
However, most of the pepper surplus has come in the form of the lowly green bell pepper. I find it amusing that green bell peppers, in particular, seem to be the bane of many food bloggers’ CSA shares. I do not question that I would easily chose a sweet red or yellow bell pepper over their unripe, bitter green cousin, but in the end, I am not so picky.
(Second week of August – and caught up!).
Simply put, peppers (of any/all sorts) remind me of home. Specifically, long, lazy summer days in California – browsing the overflowing, vibrantly colored farmers markets, grilling vegetables as a first course on a Sunday afternoon and, best of all, a variety of mouthwatering Tex-Mex dishes. Homesickness has lately been running fast and deep around here, so I took the continual bounty of peppers as an excuse to dive headlong into those memories and do my best to recreate some of my favorite pepper-centric dishes here in Paris.
(Chile Relleno casserole – recipe here)
While the variety and options of Mexican street food (burritos, tacos, tortas) in Paris are on the upswing (the tacos at Candelaria are truly delicious, no matter what country you would find them), it is still a bit of a challenge to find restaurants that offer (emphasis) affordable sit-down Mexican cuisine. I make no claim to authenticity, but for me this casserole satisfied a long held craving for chile rellenos – one of my favorite (and now most missed) south-of-the-border specialties. Stuffed with sausage, potatoes and a mild feta, baked into a soufflé/casserole and topped with chipotle-tomato sauce (the endless panier tomatoes) and cheddar cheese, it was warming meal to share with a good friend on a surprisingly cool August evening.
(Heaven – and a brief reprieve from panier pepper posting)
(Stuffed bell peppers)
I have fond memories of stuffed bell peppers, as one of those easy, go-to meals for my mom while I was growing up. Although stuffed with sausage, sweet corn and rice and then smothered in cheese and tomato sauce, it always seemed somewhat healthy to me that we were eating a meal enclosed in a green pepper shell. Following on the heels of the chile rellenos, it seemed a small mental step to take on stuffing the next week’s supply of bell peppers, as we had received sweet corn (!) and more tomatoes for sauce. Plus, it was a personal challenge to see if I could make a green bell pepper dish that Camille would enjoy. She finished everything on her plate, so I will count that as success. These were so good, I made them twice. In one week.
(Tequila-lime chicken fajitas – recipe for marinade here)
Beyond roasting peppers beyond recognition for torta salad (a tasty dinner with Camille to help consume her double-share of bell peppers) or stuffed and smothered in cheese, the last pepper-centric meal that got stuck in my head was fajitas. As an added bonus, fajitas not only meant using the peppers, but also making guacamole and pico de gallo (another tomato buster), as well as restarting the weekly panier-purge dinner. Despite my Facebook yearnings to eat the guacamole with a spoon, I actually did need others to help me consume this massive Tex-Mex feast.
Sneaking a peak at the selection in next week’s panier shows me that the summer flavors are still coming out in force – perhaps zucchini or eggplant and, surprisingly, rhubarb. However, we seem to be taking a break from the pepper harvest. I am OK with that. I am almost sure I have had my fill.
(surprisingly hot peppers now taking up valuable space in my kitchen)
Yet yesterday,in my quest to find truly spicy chiles and large quantities of fresh cilantro for the fajitas, I ended up with these. They are beyond hot (for my palate) and both my lips and nose were burning for hours after tasting them. But, they are so pretty that I could not pass them up. Any suggestions for their use, besides as a photo prop? I may have a pepper problem…