Sunday, May 15, 2011

We kilt those green bell peppers

You're not welcome anymore.
Blogger erased my last post, which is not a huge loss except that I wanted someone to make Heidi Swanson's white beans and cabbage from Super Natural Every Day and then to reassure me that it is as incredible as I thought it was. I've reattached the recipe to the end of this post. I worry that I'm losing my critical faculties, as being on a diet has made everything taste wonderful to me.

Almost everything. I still don't like green bell peppers. Although this is the season of asparagus and cherries, in our CSA box last week they gave us cold storage apples, zucchini(?!) and three green bell peppers. I really hope they don't keep this up or I might have to shop around for new A to CS.

I've only ever made one recipe in my life that highlighted green bell peppers to good (or any) effect. I  remember it like it was yesterday. To my shock, when I looked up this recipe, I saw that I made it in September 1998. Owen was -2. That's a long time to remember a recipe.

Was it really that good?

I made it again on Friday night and, yes, it is as improbably delicious as I remembered. You cook small pieces of green bell pepper in olive oil with onion and parsley until they combine to form a soft, sweet melange, then you toss this lovely green sauce with pasta shells and some Parmesan. I probably wouldn't go out and buy green peppers just to make this -- it only encourages the farmers -- but if you need to use some up, this is the recipe you want. It comes from Verdura by Viana La Place, one of my favorite cookbooks. I've made a few very slight changes.

Pasta shells with green peppers and herbs

4 tablespoons olive oil
1 small yellow onion, minced
3 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
1/4 cup Italian parsley, chopped
3 green peppers, cored, seeded and cut into small dice
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 pound whole-wheat pasta shells
2 tablespoons softened butter

1. Heat the olive oil and onion in a wide skillet and cook until the onion is translucent. Add the garlic, parsley, green peppers and some salt and pepper. Cook until the peppers are tender.

2. Meanwhile, cook the pasta in a big pot of boiling, salted water. When the pasta is almost done, scoop out about 1/3 cup of the water and add to the skillet of warm peppers. Drain the pasta. Add it to the skillet, toss in the butter, and stir until everything comes together. Serve with Parmesan. Serves 6.

Small portions, no seconds. Anything can be diet food.

And here is the recipe for Heidi Swanson's white beans and cabbage. If you make it, let me know what you think.

2 tablespoons unsalted butter or olive oil
4 ounces thin-skinned potatoes, unpeeled, scrubbed, and finely diced
kosher salt
1 large shallot, thinly sliced
2 cups cooked and cooled white beans (I used navy beans)
3 cups very finely shredded green cabbage (about half a head -- though I would use more next time)
pinch of red pepper flakes (optional)

1. Warm the butter or olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add the potatoes and cook until they are cooked through, 5 to 8 minutes. Be sure to scrape the pan and toss the potatoes once or twice along the way so all sides are browned

2. Stir in the shallot and the beans. Let the beans cook in a single layer for a couple miutes until they brown a bit, then scrape and toss again. Cook until the beans are crusty on all sides

3. Stir in the cabbage and cook for a few minutes until it "loses a bit of its structure." Serve with Parmesan.


  1. thanks for a suggestion for the cheaper pepper! we made shishito peppers tonight on the grill with olive oil/salt/pepper...they look like they would be hot but aren't. I will have to try the cabbage/bean recipe when I don't have to work for a few days ;)

  2. I can't do bell peppers--I'm burping them hours later, so it's clear my body doesn't digest them well. My husband has the same experience with onions when they're used as a main ingredient rather than a flavoring. We'd make lousy vegetarians.

  3. "it only encourages the farmers" Ha! Love that line!

  4. I love your blog more than I can say, but I am confused now about what cookbook you are cooking through formally. The blog says Dorrie Greenspan still, but you are doing the Super Natural deal. ?

  5. Globug -- I've gotten all muddled. I guess I'm doing Super Natural Every Day, but I've still not had closure with Dorie Greenspan. I need to get things straightened out. Maybe this afternoon.

  6. I like "Verdura" a lot too, as well as the three earlier books LaPlace did with Evan Kleiman. I also mostly hate green bell peppers, especially when they're crunchy atop a pizza.

    I've made a similar shells & bells dish for eons from "Marcella's Kitchen"; the differences are that the three peppers aren't all green but rather red, yellow, and green (and thus the dish is a bit more sweet and mellow), and you peel them (raw not roasted) before cooking them, which makes them both more luxurious and digestible. And you stir in a bit of cream at the end, which of course makes everything taste better -- though it would hardly be a diet dish then.

  7. I made Swanson's white bean and cabbage. I used my current favorite white bean, the mayacoba (richer and creamier than the pinto), which I can find only at Walmart (where, fortunately, the local Hispanic population drives much of the product selection).

    I did cheat a bit though. I had some leftover pancetta and so I fried that up first since bacon has such an affinity for beans and cabbage. I increased the cabbage per your suggestion. I thought it was very good. I'm not sure I'd go so far to say it was incredible, and I wonder how much less I would have enjoyed it without the wonderful crispy bits of pancetta and the bacon fat, but I would definitely make it again. As I would the farro soup.

    I started making her bran muffins but they looked a little too austere for me, so I changed things up a bit. I needed vanilla extract and raisins in my muffins, and I used all muscavado sugar instead of maple syrup. I subbed some Nutiva coconut oil for part of the butter. And I poured boiling water over half of the All-Bran and let it turn to bran mush. Otherwise, the texture would have been a bit too twiggy for my taste. They were good, but I liked Swanson's oat cakes way better, though as you said, they're very fattening.

  8. You know I love a recipe where I have all the ingredients on hand so this was the first things I made this week. I had a cabbage hanging out in my fridge and this was an awesome use of it. Thanks.
    I made it vegan but it still almost tasted like it had bacon in it. Yum. The beans and the potatoes and shallots alone knocked me out. The cabbage, I could go either way on, but thanks for talking me in to trying this--it's a keeper, and one I probably wouldn't have tried otherwise.

  9. Does the beans & cabbage need to be served hot, or could it be a potluck dish at room temp? I am bean-dish-shopping.

  10. The cabbage/bean dish is quite good, especially with the shallots! I agree that Swanson's recipes tend to lean more towards lighter tastes (not quite bland, but subtle - so I usually add an extra dash of salt, sugar or otherwise effective seasoning). But when I made this cabbage dish I added it to whole wheat macaroni to hearty it up a bit. Quite good, but definitely needs the cheese added.

  11. The cabbage/bean dish is quite good, especially with the shallots! I agree that Swanson's recipes tend to lean more towards lighter tastes (not quite bland, but subtle - so I usually add an extra dash of salt, sugar or otherwise effective seasoning). But when I made this cabbage dish I added it to whole wheat macaroni to hearty it up a bit. Quite good, but definitely needs the cheese added.

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