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 also can 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.
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 U.S. Department of Agriculture.
This dish of Tri-Color Roasted Peppers With Basil is a quick and easy appetizer that is loaded with beta carotene and high in vitamins B-6 and C: 1 cup of fresh bell pepper contains more vitamins than a cup of fresh orange juice.
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. Season with 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 in accompanying box.)
If desired, crumble goat cheese over peppers.
Per serving: 58 calories, 5 grams fat, 1 gram saturated fat, 0 milligrams cholesterol, 3 grams carbohydrate, trace protein, 1 milligram sodium, 1 gram fiber
Per serving (with goat cheese): 70 calories, 6 grams fat, 1 gram saturated fat, 2 milligrams cholesterol, 3 grams carbohydrate, 1 gram protein, 7 milligrams sodium, 1 gram fiber
Recipe analyses provided by The Kansas City Star.
Shopping: Whatever color pepper you choose, be sure the skin is glossy, with no soft spots.
Cooking: This recipe works well in the oven, but the peppers also could 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: Sprinkle the peppers with goat cheese, or serve them on toasted baguettes.
Storage: The remaining basil-olive oil mixture can be refrigerated for three to five days and used as a drizzle on vegetables, salads or sandwiches.