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New Ingredient: Fire Roasted Red Peppers

October 4, 2011

Does it count as using a new ingredient if I only have to take said ingredient out of a jar and eat it… raw?

If so, the New Ingredient Challenge is back after a wee hiatus (it’s been two months since the last installment), during which I’ve fallen into the typical working girl trap of getting home too tired — or too busy — to do anything but make a bowl of oatmeal or a big salad. Especially during the steamy summer months, the idea of turning on the stove or oven was painful.

But it was fah-reezing here in DC last night and a hot dinner was definitely in order. Scrounging around in the pantry, I stumbled onto a jar of Trader Joe’s Fire Roasted Red Peppers.

This served as the perfect addition to my nearly-100% CSA-provided dinner of local eggplant, green beans, spinach and sweet potatoes.

The most common question I get about belonging to a CSA (besides ‘What is a CSA?’) is ‘How do you eat all the produce?’.

Would it surprise the person asking that question to know that in spite of getting a lot of produce each week from CSA, I buy even more fruits and vegetables at the grocery store? Not much, but the occasional bunch of bananas for oatmeal or bag of oranges for a natural vitamin C boost.

Roasted red peppers are one of my favorite sandwich ingredients when I eat out but I’d never tried them myself at home. While there are seemingly easy techniques to roast your own peppers (oven and stove), I cheated and went with store-bought, pre-roasted peppers.

The peppers — which could have used slightly more kick to my tastebuds — were a fantastic topping to roasted eggplant, eaten on a Nature’s Own bun as a burger. Who needs meat when you have eggplant?

A squirt of barbecue sauce amped up the flavor. A great condiment or the greatest condiment? You be the judge.

Using a new ingredient doesn’t have to mean whipping up something complicated in the kitchen or incorporating some obscure food into your meal. Sometimes it’s just about branching out to buy something new at the grocery store or adding an unexpected ingredient to your meal. It’s easy to get stuck in a grocery store rut — my shopping basket looks virtually the same week after week — so pick up something new this week and get creative!

Do you stick to a grocery list or shop by impulse?

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