A view of Longs Peak through the corn stocks on the Stevens' farm
A few days ago, Colorado was blessed with one of those perfectly gorgeous autumn days. The trees and fields around Boulder were a brilliant shade of gold under the cloudless blue sky and the sun’s rays seemed to cast a shimmery light over everything.
Coincidentally, my mom (the farmer’s market queen–remember?) had arranged with one of her favorite farmers to go out to his farm that day to get some end-of-season produce before he sold out. I decided to tag along for fun–“You have to meet these people,” my mom told me.
Richard Stevens and his wife Betty are one of the gems of the Boulder County Farmers’ Market. Both in their late 70’s (78 I’m guessing), the couple singlehandedly run their acre farm. They grow everything from raspberries to squash to red peppers on that little plot of land, and somehow earn enough money to live a simple, yet comfortable life. Unfortunately after more than 30 years of farming, old age has taken its toll on both of them and this fall will be their last season selling at the farmers market.
Richard Stevens on his farm
Driving down the dirt road toward the Stevens’ farm was like going into a wonderland. We passed under huge cottonwoods that filtered golden light down onto us and arrived just as the sun was starting its slow drop down the sky, lengthening shadows and serving as a poignant reminder that we were nearing the last harvest of the season.
Richard and Betty were, of course, out working in the dirt when we arrived, picking out the last leaves of chard. Pushing a wheelbarrow in front of him, Richard came over and greeted us as we pulled in and showed us downstairs where he kept his treasures: fiery red sweet peppers, creamy beige butternut squash and the last pickings of his famously perfect-tasting tomatoes.
After gathering our spoils, my mom and I lingered awhile longer, talking to Richard and Betty and taking some photos of their beautiful farm. It turns out that Richard doesn’t believe in the whole organic farming movement–too many rules and silly regulations. Instead, Richard says that he follows a biodynamic style of farming. While true biodynamic cultivation includes farming processes guided by the moon cycle and crazy herbal concoctions, Richard calls his style of farming biodynamic (for more information about biodynamic click here) in the sense that he uses only products from the land to make his crops healthy. While he can only advertise that his produce is “naturally grown,” its easy to see that his farm is actually leaps and bounds beyond even “organic.”
Driving away, it felt like we were leaving a different world, one that had been skipped by the hustle and bustle and modernization of the 21st century.
The next night, as I looked back at the pictures from the day before, all I could think about was how to make a meal that would pay homage to Richard’s gorgeous red peppers. My mom suggested stuffed red peppers–a cozy meal now that the weather is turning cooler. Looking at various recipes, one on WholeFoods.com sounded particularly delicious and (with minor modifications) diet appropriate. The curry filling for the peppers sounded like it would complement my the sweetness of my red bells perfectly.
Richard's gorgeous bell peppers
Blanching the peppers was a good idea, but anyone pressed for time could probably skip this step and just have some crunchier peppers. We used apple chicken sausage because I couldn’t find turkey sausage, which, I know is a small slip in the diet but turned out to add a kick of sweetness to the curry. We also added some cumin powder which paired nicely with the curry and skipped the currants. Unsweetened almond milk was perfect to make the sauce, something that I have never done on stuffed peppers but will absolutely do again because it made the pepper filling really nice and moist. The only addition I may make next time is to add some rice to the filling to give it a bit more substance–it would also make the recipe stretch farther if you just added a touch more of the spices.
Eating the peppers as leftovers on the second day was also a treat. Richard’s peppers are long and narrow, kind of like chilies so after they had chilled in the fridge overnight, I could pick up the stuffed pepper with my hands. It was a curried chicken sausage and pepper burrito…brilliant.
Our finished product
Here’s the recipe from Whole Foods
4 large bell peppers (any color), tops removed, peppers cored and seeded
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 large yellow onion, finely chopped
1/2 pound ground turkey or mild or spicy turkey sausage, casings removed
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 medium zucchini, finely chopped
1/2 cup cilantro, chopped
1/4 cup dried currants
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/2 cup plain rice, soy, or almond milk
1 tablespoon mild curry powder
Salt and pepper to taste
4 cups cooked millet or quinoa, hot
1 lemon, cut into wedges (optional)
Preheat oven to 350°F.
Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add peppers and cook for 3 minutes. Drain peppers and run under cold water until completely cool; set aside.
Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onions and cook until soft, about 3 minutes. Add turkey or turkey sausage and garlic and cook, breaking up turkey with a wooden spoon, until evenly browned, about 5 minutes. Add zucchini, cilantro, currants and lemon juice. Cover and simmer over low heat for 2 to 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove skillet from heat & set aside.
Arrange peppers in a shallow baking dish, hollow-side up, so that they are touching. Using a slotted spoon, divide turkey mixture between peppers, using all of the stuffing and reserving liquid remaining in skillet. Bring reserved liquid in skillet to a boil over medium high heat. Reduce heat to low, then whisk in rice, soy, or almond milk, curry powder, salt and pepper. Simmer, whisking constantly, until curry powder has completely dissolved, about 1 to 2 minutes. Spoon sauce evenly over each stuffed pepper. Cover dish with aluminum foil and bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until peppers are tender.