Back when I thought I’d never get to have bread again I experimented with a number of ways to make a sandwich. This is one of those experiments that turned out to be a favorite. Think open-faced sandwich here that you eat with a knife and fork.
First a little something about the bell pepper, which most of us regard as a vegetable, but is actually a fruit from a shrub in the nightshade family. Its scientific name is Capsicum Annum. They’re native to Mexico, Central America and northern South America. They come in a variety of colors: green, red, yellow, orange, brown, purple and white. The green peppers are the least sweet, while the red is the sweetest. At only 30 calories each (for a large one), they’re great for those of us watching our weight. And some of the nutritional benefits they provide are an added bonus, most of which we don’t get from bread. For example, one hundred grams (approximately a cup) contains over 100% of the recommended daily allowance for vitamin-A. They also contain anti-oxidant, anti-inflammatory flavonoids, and are a good source of minerals. Red and green bell peppers, in particular, are packed with vitamin-C, although the red ones actually have twice the amount of the green, and contain over 200% of the recommended daily allowance of vitamin-C. In fact, they actually have 3x more vitamin-C than an orange!
Okay, all finished with the lesson in bell peppers. Can you tell I home-schooled my kids? =)
I just wanted to let you know how good they are for you, because it actually made me feel better knowing this when I first found out I couldn’t have my then-favorite bread.
Now on to the recipe!
The broiler does most of the work flavoring these…once you’ve prepped your peppers. (Go ahead and try saying that fast three times. ;))
Cut around the stem and remove it, rather than merely cutting the end off – as it will help it retain its cup-like shape. Then slice the bell pepper in half (lengthwise), and pluck out the seeds and the white ribs. Lay the peppers on a baking sheet with the outsides up and brush a little olive oil over the back of them before you stick them under the broiler.
If you keep an eye on them you’ll notice the outer skin starts to blister. If you haven’t made them before, you might be tempted to pull them out when they’ve turned spotty and brownish black. There’s really nothing wrong with doing that. I’ve done it myself. They will simply be firmer (like al dente pasta), slightly less sweet/smoky flavored, and a little harder for you to get that skin off than if you wait until they’ve blackened. However, they do hold their shape better if they’re not blackened – which is a plus when stuffing them. Either way you prefer them, you will probably need to do a little shuffling of them so that the sides catch the heat too. Just make sure you allow them to cool a bit before trying to handle them!
I like to make a number of them at a time and keep them in the fridge. Besides this recipe, they’re delicious when used in omelets, pasta dishes, salads (ooh they’re so good added to salads), and really just about anything where you want to add a little smoky, sophisticated flavor. I have also discovered that if I leave the blackened skins on those I might want to use (for stuffing purposes) again on a later date, they’re not so quick to lose their shape. Simply place them in a covered dish and refrigerate.
Go ahead and make the open-faced “sandwich” filling as the peppers cool. Or prepare it in advance, as you like. In this case I mixed the following (which is basically one of my healthier versions for tuna salad). You’ll notice I don’t add a lot of mayo (or even Greek yogurt). I’ve found it doesn’t really need it because the pepper keeps it from spilling out all over your plate. Still, it’s usually pretty soft so you’re likely to eat this with a knife and fork anyway. Unless you’re my husband. So by all means, go ahead and add more mayo/Greek yogurt, if you prefer it that way – or use your own favorite tuna or chicken salad!
- Tuna packed in water - drained (May substitute with chopped, cooked chicken) - 14 oz.
- minced onions - 1/2 cup
- chopped celery - 1/2 cup
- organic corn - fresh or frozen (optional) - 1/2 cup
- Greek Yogurt or gluten-free mayonnaise - 1/4 cup
- sea salt (optional) - 1/4 teaspoon
- ground pepper - 1/4 teaspoon
- Pepper Jack cheese to top it all off, and then pop it under the broiler again for a few minutes. -
- Best if eaten right away!
Alternatives: Chopped apple and pecans in place of the celery and corn. Omit the pepper and swap out the Jack Cheese for Monterey Jack.
For those who may not be familiar with Pepper Jack cheese - it's a delicious creamy cheese, like Monterey Jack, but with the added zing of spicy peppers. I’ve also used cheddar - both mild and sharp – which requires much less, due to its strong flavor. Monterey Jack is also nice if you prefer your cheese without the spicy flavor, or try Cotija, which is a lovely Mexican cheese similar to parmesan. I've had wonderful results with all of them. Or perhaps there's another cheese you'd prefer to use??? Say...a non-dairy variety? Go ahead and experiment. That's part of the fun of creating something new you and your family or friends will enjoy! And by all means, do share your ideas here too if you like! =)