Veggin’ out

My favorite time of the year is just around the corner. The air is getting cooler – finally!

I’m more of a fall and winter kind of girl than a spring and summer.

I’m happier cold than hot.

So, I’m sorry to say to the summer lovers that the heat is on it’s way out, but who doesn’t love the beautiful colors of fall that await us?

September also is bell pepper month, which come in a variety of colors, just like the soon-to-be changing leaves of fall.

Bell peppers can be found in green, red, yellow and orange and are a great source of vitamin C. A better source, in fact, than citrus fruit, especially in the red variety.

I had a porch garden this year, in which bell peppers were one of the plants I grew. Although they did not grow very large, they still tasted delicious.

One dinner I love, but don’t make very often, is stuffed peppers.

My mom used to make them on occasion when I was growing up. She used a combination of either ground beef or turkey and rice.

She used turkey more often because we weren’t big beef fans. But, I have adapted the stuffed peppers into a vegetarian meal by using vegetarian ground meat.

I don’t cook for many other than myself, so this recipe makes two servings. You can adapt it to make more servings if you are cooking for more people.

Veggie stuffed peppers

2 large any color bell peppers

3/4 pound meatless ground (Gimme Lean, Smart Ground or any you like)

1/3 cup chopped onion

1 7 1/2-ounce can tomatoes, cut up

1/3 cup long grain rice

1/2 teaspoon dried basil or dried oregano, crushed

1/4 cup shredded cheese (or non-dairy cheese)

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

Hollow out peppers, removing stem and seeds. Cook meat and onion in a skillet until onions are tender. Stir in undrained tomatoes, uncooked rice, basil, 1/2 cup water, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil and reduce heat.

Cover and simmer for about 15 minutes or until rice is tender. Fill peppers with meat and rice mixture. Sprinkle cheese over meat mixture of each pepper. Place peppers in a baking dish and bake at 375 degrees for about 15 minutes or until heated through. Let stand 1 to 2 minutes.

Another use of bell peppers is what is sometimes referred to as peperonata, an Italian fried pepper and onion recipe that can be used as a side dish or mixed with other ingredients to make a meal.

My dad made this a lot in the mornings for breakfast. He fried the peppers with onions and potatoes and mixed them in with his eggs. Pepper and onion peperonata also goes great on top of meatless burgers, hot dogs or sausages and mixed in with pasta. Experiment with it and you can come up with your own version.

Peperonata with potatoes and eggs

1/4 cup olive oil

3 bell peppers, any color, seeded, sliced into strips

2 medium potatoes, sliced into pieces

1 large onion, sliced into strips

4 eggs

1 tablespoon dried oregano

Salt and pepper to taste

Heat olive oil in a large pan on medium high heat. Add the potatoes and sprinkle with a little salt and saute until golden brown, about 5 to 6 minutes. Add the peppers and saute for about 3 to 4 minutes, stirring often. Add the onions and saute for about 2 to 3 minutes, until the onions are tender.

Cook eggs in a separate pan. Scramble the eggs and add them to the pepper mixture. Sprinkle with salt pepper and oregano and cook for about 1 to 2 minutes. My dad likes to top the meal with ketchup. I like to put the mixture between two pieces of toast and make it into a hearty peperonata and egg sandwich.

Reppert is the Lifestyle and Education editor at the Sun-Gazette. Her column is published on the second Wednesday of each month.