I was recently tasked with developing a recipe that highlights sweet banana peppers for my next cooking demo at Atlanta Botanical Garden. Sweet banana peppers are currently growing like crazy at the Atlanta Botanical Garden's edible garden (see photo below). Don't let the name banana pepper scare you into thinking these are super hot. They are not. Their flavor is somewhat similar to bell peppers. If you don't have access to sweet banana peppers, substitute yellow bell pepper.
So what was I to do with sweet banana peppers?!? Hmmm... luckily, I had just spent some time organizing my spices and came across one of my favorites, za'atar! Have you tried it? If not, you're in for a Mediterranean treat. Za'atar is a spice blend that contains white sesame seeds, thyme, sumac, marjoram, savory, and salt. If you can't find Za'atar spice blend at the store, try mixing up your own batch.
Grilled peppers + za'atar = Inspiration for this recipe!
- 1/4 cup farro, wheatberries, kamut or whole grain barley
- 3-4 tablespoons canola oil
- 3/4 teaspoon sea salt, divided
- ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 medium eggplant (about ½ pound), cut into ¾ inch rounds
- 3 sweet yellow banana peppers or 1 yellow bell pepper, halved lengthwise, seeded and deveined
- 1 tablespoon za’atar spice blend
- 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- ½ cup cooked chickpeas
- 1/3 cup cherry tomatoes, halved lengthwise
- ¼ cup roughly chopped fresh parsley
- 3 tablespoons roughly chopped fresh dill
- 1/3 cup crumbled feta cheese
- Bring 1.5 quarts of salted water to a boil in a medium pot. Add farro. Return to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer until grains are tender with slight chew, 15 to 20 minutes. Drain water and set farro aside in a large bowl.
- Prepare grill. Brush both sides of the eggplant and peppers with canola oil and season with ½ teaspoon salt and pepper.
- Grill eggplant slices and peppers, turning once halfway through cooking, until both sides are streaked with grill marks, 8-10 minutes total.
- Transfer grilled vegetables to a cutting board and slice into 1 inch pieces. Set aside to cool.
- Make za’atar vinaigrette by placing za’atar, lemon juice and remaining ¼ teaspoon sea salt in a bowl. Slowly stream in olive oil while continuously whisking.
- Drizzle za’atar vinaigrette over farro and add grilled vegetables, chickpeas, tomatoes, parsley, dill and feta cheese.
- Gently stir to combine.
Recipe Developed by: Chef Ashley R. Van Cise, RDN, LD