For as long as I can remember I have absolutely loathed green bell peppers. For years I couldn’t even stand the smell of them. The unripe fruit has been vehemently rejected from my slices of supreme pizza and left unapologetically limp and lifeless on the side of my restaurant plates. I’ve long held the opinion that green bells are an abomination that should be left on the vine until ripened into the beautiful red bell it’s meant to be. However, I’ve also long held the opinion that it’s good practice to keep tasting foods that I am unfamiliar with or do not like. So when pizza topped with green bell peppers was being served around a bonfire last summer, I decided to let go of my previous prejudices and took a bite outta’ my slice without viciously tossing the green bells aside first. I had labored in the hot morning sun plucking them off the vine after all and so tossing them hatefully off my food wasn’t as easy to do. To my utter surprise, I actually LIKED it! It was literally life changing, as I have never eaten anything with green bells on it that I didn’t reflexively spit out. The green bells added a fruity, subtle bitterness to the pizza that helped cut through the umami of the cheese and I couldn’t wait to take another shockingly delicious bite. Needless to say, I enjoyed a second slice.
After harvesting several small green bells from my own kitchen garden this season, I wanted to make certain the change of heart I experienced last summer wasn’t a fluke. So I sliced up one of my smallest green bells and topped our latest pizza with it. Again, I loved it! This new found delight in green bells is so confusing that I am still hesitate to say out loud, “I like green bell peppers.” I’m not sure if this sudden makeup with the unripened fruit is due to growing and harvesting them myself or due to the fact that the bells were small so their flavor was more subtle. Whichever is true, I encourage everyone to keep giving new and previously hated flavors a second, third, and maybe even a fourth try. After 34 years of hating green bell peppers with a passion, I have now enjoyed eating them twice in the past year. I’m so glad I held myself accountable and gave this humble little vegetable another chance. Are green bell peppers my final frontier to explore and boldly go where I’ve never gone before? Who knows for sure, but I am definitely excited to keep experimenting.
1 Whole Wheat Pizza dough, or dough of choice
1/2 jar TJ’s Pizza Sauce, or sauce of choice
1/2 cup Spinach, loosely packed
1 small Green Bell Pepper, stem and seeds removed and thinly sliced
1 pkg Italian 6 Blend Shredded Cheese
1 bulb Garlic, left intact with top cut off and discarded
1 tsp EVOO
1/4 tsp Salt
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place the garlic bulb on a sheet of aluminum foil, drizzle with the EVOO, and salt. Wrap the bulb securely in the foil and roast in the oven 45 minutes to an hour until the garlic has caramelized. Remove from the oven and allow to completely cool. Once cooled, remove the roasted garlic from the skins, discarding the skins. Set the roasted garlic aside.
Preheat the oven to 475 degrees. Place a cast iron pizza pan (or pan of choice) in the oven to preheat it. Roll out the pizza the dough. Carefully remove the pizza pan from the oven, stretch the dough over the pan, and flashbake the dough in the oven for about 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and top with the pizza sauce, cheese, spinach, roast garlic, and green bell pepper slices. Bake pizza in the oven for 15 to 20 minutes or until desired doneness is reached. Allow to cool slightly before slicing.