P_P_Pick up a Pepper!
September 16, 2014
Not only that but peppers are a great source of fibre and folate, high on vitamins B1, B2 and E and have exceptionally high levels of beta-carotene which the body converts to vitamin A. Unsurprisingly they contain zero fat and are very low on calories. Eaten raw or cooked they’re also super-duper versatile in the kitchen, perfect dipped, stir-fried, sautéd, curried, stewed, casseroled, grilled, roasted or baked. Or popped in a salad, quiche, tart, pizza or omelette or just eaten plain and simply raw. You name it they just work! I can in all honesty say we’re rarely without a pepper or two in our fridge at Eat Your Veg HQ and I’m very lucky that both monsters are happy little pepper munchers.
Interestingly that despite their healthy credentials and versatility our pepper consumption in the UK is way behind that of our Western European counterparts. We actually eat less than half the quantities that the Germans and Dutch do and only a mere 65% of Brits even buy peppers!
At Thanet Earth we’re not talking your average garden greenhouse. Each of the monumental glass houses are a quarter of a mile long and could contain twelve football pitches. Truly magnificent in actual fact. And it’s sustainable growing too, each glass house is it’s own power station generating power to feed the national grid and the whole site supplies 50,000 homes. The waste heat keeps the glasshouses warm and waste CO? and collected rainwater goes back to feeding the hydrophonically grown plants. And all with minimal pesticide intervention, relying instead on biological control. Which essentially involves sending in ‘good’ insects to eat the ‘bad’ guys and is all very fascinating stuff if you ask me. By growing in and supply the UK pepper market there’s obviously less food miles going on here too.
Not only did we get to visit the vast greenhouses at Thanet Earth but were treated to various pepper tasting events. Deliciously morish raw peppers on sticks coated in assorted herbs and spices were a fun little starter session and something I’ll most definitely be re-creating for friends. Namely yellow peppers with coriander and soya sauce, orange peppers with lemon grass, red peppers with cumin and basil and finally green peppers with goats cheese and tarragon. About as healthy as an appetiser can get. Our peppery ‘high tea’ got even tastier. Finely diced green peppers, Granny Smith apples, cucumber and cress topped with smoked salmon. Pots of yellow peppers and prawns with a lemon grass dressing and finally red peppers dressed with Kikkoman soy sauce and sesame seeds and served with rocket, smoked turkey and various other cold cuts. All exceptionally delicious and inventive ways to eat raw peppers.
Our finale dinner was a more cooked affair and unsurprisingly involved yet more peppers, four courses in fact! And four courses all cooked by our own fair hands, well under the watchful guidance of Dutch chef and pepper guru Guus Vredenburg. Refreshing Gazpacho to start, a Pepper, Goats cheese and Walnut Salad then a rather yummy Stir-Fried dish of Orange Pepper with Orange Juice and Chicken. My own dish of Pepperonata (a slow cooked pepper stew) I made with Nick from Foodepedia was our final course and topped with steak cooked by Guus himself. A pepper feast indeed, though I was wondering where the pepper cocktails were? Seriously missing a trick there!.
Thanks so much to Punch Communications, Thanet Earth and Colourful Taste for organising the Pepper Press trip, I had a thoroughly enjoyable, interesting and peppery time!. For a feast of family-friendly pepper recipes do check out the Colourful Taste site, a European funded initiative to get UK families eating more peppers. And look out for my own new pepper recipes that I’ll be posting over the next few weeks.
Go p_p_pick up a pepper folks!