Banana Pepper Bounty

In a moment of weakness, with their bright colored seduction, we purchased an abundance of banana peppers after stopping at a farm stand while out of town one weekend in late August. They were too gorgeous to pass up so we made an impromptu decision to buy a bunch (you couldn’t buy them singly), but once we got home I wondered what the heck I was going to do with all of them. Hmmmm, time to don my culinary thinking cap….

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A couple of ideas formulated in my mind, one an Asian stir-fry; the other an Italian pasta dish. For the first, tender shrimp and crisp vegetables are stir-fried with a garlic and ginger flavored sauce made from homemade stock (we were out of seafood so I used chicken), soy sauce and sesame oil, for a savory seafood and vegetable stir-fry. The aromatics included the “Chinese Trinity” of garlic, onion and ginger.

Be aware, there are sweet versus hot varieties. Hot banana peppers are known for producing 6-inch-long, medium hot peppers, whereas the sweet variety are just that—sweet and mild. Both types mature in color from light yellow to orange to red. Depending on your preference, choose the brand that suits your family best, or combine both.

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The second dish, a fettucine pasta, not only included those banana peppers, but some roasted plum tomatoes, which we also bought fresh from that farm stand. And to counterbalance the spiciness of the peppers, I included sweet Italian sausage and fresh sweet basil.

As far as roasting those tomatoes**, I’ve read and tried numerous methods, from roasting at a low 225-degree oven for many hours, to doing so in a hot 450-degree oven for as little as 30 minutes. Whichever you prefer, make sure to core them, slice in half lengthwise, brush with extra-virgin olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. This time I also added some fresh thyme leaves.

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Plum tomatoes are cut in half, brushed with oil, salt, pepper and thyme leaves and roasted.

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Depending on which method you use, the tomatoes roast for anywhere from 30 minutes on high heat, to several hours on low heat.

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Once cooled, package the roasted tomatoes in an air tight container and refrigerate until ready to use.

Shrimp and Banana Pepper Stir-Fry

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Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 3/4 cup seafood or chicken stock, preferably homemade
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 2 tablespoons peanut oil, divided
  • 1 pound large shrimp, peeled and deveined*
  • 1 medium onion, halved and sliced
  • 4-6 banana peppers (sweet and/or hot), halved, seeded, sliced into 1/4″ pieces
  • 2 medium carrots, peeled and sliced thinly on the diagonal

  • 1 1/2 tablespoons fresh ginger, minced
  • 3 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 10 small grape tomatoes, halved
  • 4 cups hot cooked regular long-grain white rice
  • Sliced scallion greens for topping (optional)

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Directions

  1. In a small bowl, combine the stock, soy sauce, sesame oil and 1 tablespoon of the cornstarch until smooth, set aside.

  2. Pat the shrimp very dry with paper towels. In a medium bowl, add shrimp and the remaining 1 tablespoon of the cornstarch and toss to coat.

  3. In a wok or large sauté pan over high heat, add half the cooking oil and swirl to coat the bottom of the pan. When the wok is very hot, add the shrimp in a single layer and cook partially until one side is seared brown, about 1 minute.
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  4. Flip and sear the other side of each shrimp, about one more minute. They don’t need to be cooked all the way through yet. Remove them to a plate or bowl and set aside.
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  5. Turn the heat down to medium and let wok cool off a bit to prevent the aromatics from burning. Add the remaining cooking oil and add onion, garlic and ginger and stir fry for a minute until fragrant. Remove and add to shrimp bowl.
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  6. Toss in carrot slices, cook for two minutes, then add onion and pepper slices and cook until crisp-tender, about 2 minutes more.
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  7. Pour in the sauce mixture and add the shrimp/garlic/ginger back into the pan. Stir fry for another minute until shrimp is cooked through. Add the tomato halves and serve immediately over hot rice.
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*If like us, you buy the shrimp with their heads on to use for making seafood stock, purchase 1 1/2 pounds total.

Fettucine with Banana Peppers and Roasted Plum Tomatoes

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Ingredients

  • 12 ounces fettucinne pasta
  • 1 pound sweet Italian sausage, remove from casings
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil (EVOO)
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 6 banana peppers (hot, sweet, mild or a mix), halved, seeds removed and cut into 1/4″ slices
  • 8 roasted plum tomato halves (see above**), each half quartered
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh basil, more for garnish
  • 1/4 cup parmesan cheese, more for garnish
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Directions

  1. Bring large pot of salted water to boil. Cook pasta until al dente. Before draining, set aside a 1/2 cup.
  2. While pasta is cooking, break apart Italian sausage in large skillet with 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium heat. Add in onion and garlic. Cook until sausage is completely browned, stirring occasionally.
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  3. Once sausage is completely browned, add in banana pepper slices peppers. Cook another 5-7 minutes to soften.
  4. Add in roasted tomatoes. Stir for about 2 minutes, until all flavors meld.
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  5. Toss with cooked pasta and drizzle with 1 tablespoon EVOO. (Add some of reserved pasta water to loosen if needed.)
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  6. Mix in parmesan cheese. Salt and pepper to taste.
  7. Serve immediately and garnish with more basil and cheese.

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Both recipes courtesy of Lynn Holl

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