Want your friends to think you're a culinary genius? Here's what you do: Grill red, orange and golden bell peppers until the skin just blackens and wrinkles; peel the skin off; cut the peppers into pieces, discarding the seeds and stems; dress with just a little olive oil and garlic and some coarse salt.
You will have won the late-summer cooking sweepstakes. Simple as that. Serve the peppers with a mound of oozing burrata or fresh mozzarella, on top of a crostini spread with fresh goat cheese, or strewn across a pizza. You really can't go wrong.
Peppers are late summer's star ingredient, owning the seasonal stage in the same way tomatoes did a month ago and asparagus did a couple months before that.
You can find peppers in a wide variety of colors at the farmers market – red, golden and orange have become almost pedestrian, now there's purple, white and even a dark purple-brown called "chocolate".
They all start out green, but gradually turn color as they ripen -- it happens at the same time that the peppers are building their sweetness.
But if you're cooking them, stay with the mainstays – the others will lose their color when they're cooked.
How to choose: Look for peppers that are firm, deeply colored and glossy. Beware of any that show wrinkles or soft spots – once peppers start to go bad, they spoil very quickly. Peppers that have a uniform blocky shape with straight sides will be the easiest to prepare.
How to store: Keep peppers in the refrigerator, tightly wrapped in a plastic bag.