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How to pick a peck of peppers -- and 8 recipes for using them

Italy

There is nothing at the farmers market that sums up the late summer-early fall season like the mounds of brightly colored peppers that seem to be everywhere. Their colors -- red and yellow, even purple and brown  are so saturated they seem to have been designed for the painterly golden light at this time of year. And they taste as good as they look.

Unfortunately, the looks can be a little deceiving. When it comes to flavor, there’s really only two stages: unripe (green) and ripe (red). And to make matters more confusing, many of the other unusual colors – purple and brown, in particular – will fade with cooking.

VIDEO: How to break down bell peppers

Still, can there be anything more beautiful at this time of year than a platter of roasted, peeled red and yellow peppers?

How to choose: Look for peppers that are firm, deeply colored and glossy. Peppers that have the straightest sides will be the easiest to peel.

How to store: Keep peppers in the refrigerator, tightly wrapped in a plastic bag.

How to prepare: Roast them on the grill, peel away the charred papery outer skin and you've got the makings of a fall feast. Whip fresh goat cheese with slivered basil and spoon that into the peeled pepper. Or do like they do in Italy's Piedmont and stuff them with a quick mousse made by pureeing good canned tuna and olive oil and stirring in some capers. Or simply toss them with minced garlic, olive oil and sherry vinegar.

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