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Versatile peppers complete dishes

Every so often I decide that I want to be a vegetarian. Not a vegaterian who gives up eggs and butter and anything that even remotely resembles meat, rather just eliminate meat for a while.

The feeling lasts only a day or two, but it’s usually during that time frame that I discover some really great recipes that I might not have otherwise had the time (or inclination) to try.

During my last foray into the land of vegetables, I fell in love with peppers.

I think that they are one of the most versatile vegetables available today. In one dish, they’re red and sweet; in the next, they’re spicy and savory; and the next, they’re three-alarm hot.

The only word of warning that I’ll give you about these pepper recipes is to be careful with the “hot” ones. The oils from these babies can do damage to your tongue and mouth. If you find yourself with a mouthful of something too hot, make sure you eat something dairy – not water. The water only spreads the oil. The dairy products actively neutralize the problem. In the event that you don’t have cheese, sour cream or milk available, go for a nice chunk of bread, it will help.

The following recipes can all be vegetarian, but since most of my readers aren’t of that persuasion, I’ve given you recipes that can be eaten either with meat ingredients or without.

Garbanzo and Roasted Red Pepper Dip

16-ounce can garbanzo beans (chickpeas), rinsed and drained

7 ounces roasted red peppers, rinsed and drained

1/2 cup yogurt or sour cream (you can use the non-dairy substitute)

2 teaspoons minced garlic

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

Process all of the ingredients in a food processor or blender and process until smooth. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour before serving. Makes 2 cups.

Peppers and Potatoes

2 teaspoons olive oil

1/2 cup chopped onion

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 cup tomato, minced and seeded

2 cups potato, peeled and cubed

1 cup red bell pepper, cut into bite-size pieces

1 cup yellow bell pepper, cut into bite-size pieces

1 cup orange bell pepper, cut into bite-size pieces

1/4 teaspoon salt (optional)

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

10 1/2 ounces (1 can) ready-to-serve chicken broth (not condensed)

1/3 cup coarsely chopped fresh basil

1/4 cup sliced pimento-stuffed olives or black olives

In a large skillet with a lid, heat the oil. Add the onion and sauté for 8 to 10 minutes. Add the garlic, mix to combine and sauté 1 minute. Add the tomato and cook 5 minutes, stirring frequently.

Add potato, peppers, salt, black pepper and broth; bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 20 minutes or until potato is tender, stirring occasionally.

Remove from heat; stir in basil and olives. Let stand, covered, 20 minutes and serve. Serves 8.

Peppers and Pasta

1 heaping tablespoon minced garlic

1/4 teaspoon crushed dried red pepper flakes (more if you prefer)

1 large white onion, chopped

3 small green chili peppers (jalapeno or serrano) seeded, chopped finely

2 red peppers cut into thin strips

1 yellow pepper, cut into thin strips

1 orange pepper, cut into thin strips

3/4 cup dry white wine

2 tomatoes, chopped coarsely

1/2 cup tomato sauce

5 teaspoons olive oil

1 pound curly noodles (fettuccini is OK too), cooked according to directions, drained

Salt and pepper to taste

Grated parmesan

In a large skillet, heat the olive oil. Add the garlic, red pepper flakes, onion and chili peppers and sauté a few minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add the peppers and sauté, stirring occasionally for a few minutes longer.

Add wine, tomatoes, tomato sauce, salt and pepper and mix to combine. Simmer for 10 to 15 minutes. Add the pasta, mix to coat and serve with the parmesan cheese on the top or the side. Serves 6.

– Submitted by Randi Goldman of New York, New York Slice of Life is a food column that offers recipes, cooking advice and information on new food products. It appears Sundays. If you have a question about cooking or a food item, contact Eileen Goltz at eztlog@gmail.com or write The Journal Gazette, 600 W. Main St., Fort Wayne, IN 46802.

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