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Shakshuka, salads, harissa and more great ideas for bell peppers, now in season

Shakshuka, salads, harissa and more great ideas for bell peppers, now in season
A selection of red and yellow bell peppers spotted at Smith Farms stand at the Santa Monica farmers market on Aug. 8. (Noelle Carter / Los Angeles Times)

What's in season: When it comes to vibrant summer produce, bell peppers are the amazing Technicolor fruit of the season. The unripe peppers start out green, but as they mature, their colors can range through shades of red, orange, yellow, purple and even chocolate. Regardless of color, bell peppers are similar in flavor, mildly sweet, with little to no heat. Bell peppers are the only member of the Capsicum genus (which includes other chile peppers) that doesn't produce capsaicin, the chemical that gives chiles their heat. The fruit are generally in season from late summer to early fall.

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What to cook: Julienne fresh peppers and toss with a vinaigrette to make a late-summer slaw, or char the peppers over a hot flame to add smoky notes to sandwiches, chilis and soups. Add peppers to pasta dishes or shakshuka, and wrap the roasted fruit around fresh cheese or tuna for a quick appetizer. Or just cut off the tops and fill the peppers with grains, chicken or other stuffings.

What's on the horizon: Bunches of fresh dates, often still on stalks, are at markets for the next few weeks — slightly softened and sweet, they have a crunch similar to an apple.

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