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Earth Eats: Real Food, Green Living

Preserving Flavors of the Season, Part 1: Peppers and Tomatillos

It’s getting to be that time of year, when gardens are drying up. But this doesn’t mean that you can’t enjoy your favorite foods all winter long.

a jar of pickled peppers

Photo: Annie Corrigan/WFIU

Pickled peppers can be used in any number of different ways in your dishes, from sandwich and pasta toppers to a nice accompaniment to grilled salmon or tofu.

a jar of pickled peppers

Photo: Annie Corrigan/WFIU

It’s getting to be that time of year again, when gardens are looking a little long in the tooth and farmer’s markets are closing up shop. But this doesn’t mean that you can’t enjoy your favorite summer and fall foods all winter long, like… say… peppers and tomatillos.

Chef Daniel Orr suggests preparing foods from your garden in any number of ways as a way of enjoying them through the cold months. Today, he shows you how to pickle peppers and turns a slew of tomatillos into a salsa verde.

Pickled Peppers

“We’ve got some habanero, banana, and Tabasco peppers,” but Chef Orr encourages you to use your favorite peppers or whatever you have laying around the kitchen.

Get yourself a glass jar, and the process couldn’t be more simple: 2 cups of White vinegar, ¼ cup of sugar, and salt. You can also add some spices to amp up the flavor of the peppers: cinnamon sticks, ginger, and star anise.

These pickled peppers can be used in any number of different ways in your dishes, from sandwich and pasta toppers to a nice accompaniment to grilled salmon or tofu.

Or, if you’re looking to create holiday gifts this year, wrap a bow around the jar and present them as a decoration for any kitchen countertop.

Salsa Verde With Fresh Tomatillos

Chef Orr had another hot and flavorful dish on his mind when he collected a bunch of tomatillos from his garden. “It is called a ground cherry, or a husked tomato,” Chef explained. He has spoken about volunteers in the garden in past Earth Eats episodes, and tomatillos are certainly one such plant. “We haven’t planted tomatillo plants in 10-15 years and they are still going strong!”

Along with onions, a chile pepper, and a healthy portion of garlic, he roasted the tomatillos to develop a carmelized flavor. “This will also evaporate some of the moisture in the onions and tomatillos which will make the salsa a little bit thicker.”

And then, comes the basil! On the way in from picking in the garden, he swiped a few basil leaves from one of his plants to use in this salsa, but you could also use mint, tarragon or cilantro for a change of pace. Make the recipe your own by adding the flavors you best enjoy!

Ingredients:

  • 15-20 tomatillos, sliced
  • 1 white onion, chopped
  • 1 chile pepper, chopped (keep the seeds for extra heat!)
  • 4-5 cloves of garlic
  • lemon zest
  • 2 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 cup basil
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Mix the chopped vegetables with lemon zest and olive oil.
  2. Roast the vegetables in an over-proof pan under a broiler. The vegetables will cook down and become carmelized.
  3. After broiling the vegetables, add the basil and an additional clove of garlic (chopped). Pulse the mixture in a food processor.
  4. Add raw vegetables after processing as you like, such as red onions or additional tomatillos. Feel free to add whatever flavors you especially enjoy.
  5. Choose a chile pepper that will provide the heat and flavor you’re looking for (serrano, jalapeño, habanero, etc). Add remaining ingredients and pulse in food processor until desired consistency is reached. Add salt and pepper to taste.

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Annie Corrigan

Annie Corrigan is a producer and announcer for WFIU. In addition to serving as the local voice for NPR's Morning Edition, she produces WFIU's weekly sustainable food program Earth Eats. She earned degrees in oboe performance from Indiana University and Bowling Green State University.

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