By Morgan Lee
“In Season” this week: Cubanelle Peppers and sweet onions
Thanks for visiting my column this week! Eating real food and food that is kind to the environment is one of my passions so I wanted to share some easy ways to do this with college students. Eating local and in season produce is not only so much tastier, it also reduces greenhouse gas emissions. When food doesn’t have to travel thousands of miles, it doesn’t cause emissions from trucks, trains and planes.
I originally started out this week with the idea of using radicchio, because it is one of the few things in season in the midwest in February. However, when I showed up at Whole Foods, the radicchio was from California and some onions and peppers were, surprisingly, local.
Disclaimer: Just because something is local, it isn’t necessarily better for the environment. In order to be grown locally this time of year, this produce likely required heaters and solar lamps that are very energy intensive. While it is possible to grow these plants in winter in a sustainable, low-impact way, this approach is likely more for home gardeners than the supermarket level. So, this week’s recipe might not have been the most environmentally friendly option (although basically the only option at whole foods). Remember that for it to truly be god for the environment, it must be both local AND in season. Here is a website that I have found very useful in determining what is actually in season. (Unfortunately not much this time of year in Illinois.)
This may not be your traditional Valentine’s Day dish, but it does make for a great vegetarian option and something for you and significant other to do together!
I absolutely love Stuffed Peppers, because they are so versatile and easy. You can easily make them vegan with some vegan cheese or even no cheese at all. It is also very easy to add salsa or any other sauce/seasoning. Even add some chicken or ground beef if you really feel like it.
1 Cup Cooked Rice (or other grain)
1 Can Black Beans
2 Cubanelle Peppers
1 Cup Shredded Cheese
1/4 Sweet Onion
Taco Seasoning (if not using seasoned beans)
1/2 Tablespoon Dried Garlic
Salt & Pepper to taste
- Preheat oven to 375°F
- Prep Peppers: Rinse, cut off tops and clean out seeds. Peppers should then be halved lengthwise.
- Arrange peppers on a greased cookie sheet (feel free to add aluminum foil to the sheet to protect it) and pre-cook for 10 mins.
- While the peppers are cooking, mix the grain (I used couscous), black beans, ½ cup cheese, onion, and seasonings in a large bowl.
- Next, you’ll stuff the peppers with the grain mixture and put them back in the oven for another 10 minutes.
- At this point, the peppers should start to get a bit golden on the edges. Now’s the time to cover them with the remaining ½ cup of cheese (or more if it suits you). They’ll need to go back in the oven for about 5 minutes just so the cheese can start to get gooey.
- Now they are ready to enjoy! Maybe with some chips and salsa!
As always, if you have any questions about my recipes or ideas, feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I started this column with the hope that other students would be willing to eat more sustainably sourced and plant-based foods once they saw that “it is so easy a college student can do it.” Here’s to our health and the planet’s!