It’s not uncommon to find red, yellow and green bell peppers packaged together like an edible stoplight at an intersection of the produce aisle.
Heck, shoppers can also take a detour by plopping orange and purple varieties into their carts.
Stop-and-go colors are not just an eye-catching marketing tool: The vivid hues also signal exceptional nutritional value. Thirty years ago, bell peppers came in one color: green. Although tasty, green peppers have less than half the amount of vitamin C as red, orange and yellow varieties, according to Russ Parsons, author of How to Pick a Peach: The Search for Flavor From Farm to Table (Houghton Mifflin).
The sweeter, more complex flavor of colored peppers has boosted consumption in recent years, and consumer demand continues to grow. On any given day almost a quarter of Americans will eat a bell pepper or a dish containing bell peppers, according to the USDA.
The Star’s Tri-Color Roasted Peppers With Basil is a quick and easy appetizer that is loaded with beta carotene and high in vitamins B6 and C: 1 cup of fresh bell pepper contains more vitamins than a cup of fresh orange juice.
Shopping tip: Whatever color you choose, be sure the skin is glossy, with no soft spots.
Cooking tip: This recipe works well in the oven, but the peppers could also be roasted on a medium-hot grill for roughly the same amount of time as the recipe calls for. Turn them so they char evenly without burning.
Serving tip: Sprinkle the peppers with goat cheese, or serve them on toasted baguettes.
Storage tip: The remaining basil-olive oil mixture can be refrigerated for 3 to 5 days and used as a drizzle on vegetables, salads or sandwiches.
Tri-color roasted peppers with basil
Makes 8 servings
1 red bell pepper, seeded and cut in half lengthwise
1 orange bell pepper, seeded and cut in half lengthwise
1 yellow bell pepper, seeded and cut in half lengthwise
Scant amount of olive oil for brushing
Salt and pepper to taste
1 clove garlic
1 cup fresh basil leaves
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons goat cheese, optional
Preheat oven to 500 degrees. Brush outside of peppers with olive oil and place cut side up on baking sheet. Salt and pepper to taste. Roast for 20 minutes. Immediately place peppers in a bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Set aside and allow to stand 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, place garlic in work bowl of food processor; process to chop. Add basil leaves and pulse until basil is finely chopped. Add extra-virgin olive oil and process to blend.
Peel and slice peppers and arrange on platter. Using 1 tablespoon of the basil mixture, place small droplets evenly over peppers. (Reserve the rest for another use; see storage tip above.)
If desired, crumble goat cheese over peppers.
Per serving: 58 calories (77 percent from fat), 5 grams total fat (1 gram saturated), no cholesterol, 3 grams carbohydrates, trace protein, 1 milligram sodium, 1 gram dietary fiber.
Per serving (with goat cheese): 70 calories (76 percent from fat), 6 grams total fat (1 gram saturated), 2 milligrams cholesterol, 3 grams carbohydrates, 1 gram protein, 7 milligrams sodium, 1 gram dietary fiber.
Recipe developed for The Star by professional home economist Kathryn Moore and Roxanne Wyss.