Rainbow bright: Sweet peppers at the farmer's market
photo: Nina Lalli
Raw peppers are crunchy and juicy and work well in salads, but are much sweeter and meatier when cooked. Because they are so different, many people love one preparation and detest the other. Cooked peppers are appealing this time of year, lending a lot of flavor to whatever they are paired with, and easily replace meat because of their intense, dense flesh. A classic Italian American appetizer is roasted red peppers with thinly sliced raw garlic, which is traditionally served cold, as at Roberto Restaurant near Arthur Avenue in the Bronx. At Poetessa, short rigatoni are tossed with roasted eggplant, peppers, chopped arugula, and goat cheese, and at Abboccato, free-range chicken is stewed with sweet peppers, tomatoes, olives, and rosemary.
These are just some of fall's offeringsthe market is overflowing with more seasonal delights like Jerusalem artichokes (a/k/a sunchokes), local apples, mushrooms, fresh beans, and more. Restaurant creations can be a great reference when combining flavors you might not have thought to put together. But don't think you have to spend a fortune to experience the best of the seasonthe greatest preparations are often the simplest, and the market can't be beat for inspiration.