Owner of The Veggie Wagon shares roasted red pepper recipe
For the owners of The Veggie Wagon, it all started with the desire to support local farmers and give our community better access to locally grown foods.
APRIL SUSSMAN and her husband Max opened The Veggie Wagon, a store featuring produce and prepared foods made from items from local farms.
The business started as a farm stand, but the owners knew they could not run a farm stand during the winter.
“After lengthy discussion with our network of farmers in Columbus, Duplin, Pender and New Hanover Counties, we realized checks we wrote for produce to our farmers on our weekly Thursday trips to pick up produce really made a difference in their lives,” April Sussman says. “This is when our wheels really started to turn, and we knew we needed to find a way to make a long-term impact that would last more than a few months out of the year.”
The Sussmans worked to build a website, started a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) delivery business, and signed up as vendors the local farmers market in Carolina Beach.
“In addition to fresh produce sold at the market weekly, we started manufacturing our own recipes such as spice blends and handmade mozzarella cheese. Over time, we grew our customer base and took a leap of faith and opened a brick-and-mortar business,” April Sussman says.
“This allowed us to not only work with local farmers year-round, but it also allowed us to broaden our scope of farmers and make more of an impact within the surrounding farming communities by being to make more products in our small production kitchen,” April Sussman adds.
April Sussman says the inspirations for the meals they prepare come from cooking at home, cooking family dinners with their friends, and simplicity.
“We love easy meals that we can all cook together and will typically choose grilled pizzas over-complicated meals any day of the week,” she says. “When we get really creative, we are normally cooking with close friends and it ends up being an all-day event. One of our favorite meals to make at home is grilled Italian stuffed pork chops with a big leafy salad.”
The Veggie Wagon also hosts cooking classes. April Sussman says they wanted to teach customers how to easily incorporate local fresh produce into their everyday meals and at that time most of our customers had run out of ideas on what to do with winter produce.
“One of my favorite classes we taught was how to make handmade ravioli from the pasta to the fillings. One of our filling recipes incorporated roasted local tomatoes from Burgaw,” she says.
The Veggie Wagon will also host a Valentine’s Day Wine & Chocolate Tasting Thursday from 5 to 7 p.m. at the 3315 Masonboro Loop Road location. Coastal Beverage Company will be there with wine and there will be chocolate truffles.
April shares her recipe for roasted red peppers.
“Instead of roasting them on a grill or a stove we broil ours for about five minutes until the skin blisters. This takes away the charring of the pepper and gives it more of caramelization adding amazing sweetness,” she says.
Roasted Red Pepper
- 2 red bell peppers, cut into quarters
- 10 sprigs of fresh flat-leaf parsley, rough chopped
- 2 chopped garlic cloves
- 1 tablespoon capers
- 3 cup extra virgin olive oil
- ¼ teaspoon of kosher salt
- ¼ teaspoon of black pepper
- The Veggie Wagon Handmade Balsamic Glaze
- Slices of The Veggie Wagon hand-pulled Mozzarella Cheese (Optional)
Cover cookie sheet with aluminum foil. Cut 4 sides of red bell peppers and place skin side up on a cookie sheet.
Place on the top rack of oven on a high broil for approximately 5 minutes until skins begin to blister. Do not burn.
Carefully remove the pan from the oven using an oven mitt and transfer peppers into a glass bowl.
Cover with saran wrap and let peppers sit for 15 minutes. Remove saran wrap and carefully remove blistered skins from red bell peppers.
Fine dice garlic and julienne red bell peppers. With a pair of sharp scissors, rough chopped flat-leaf parsley.
In a large skillet, heat olive oil and garlic.
Once garlic is fragrant, add in red bell peppers and capers. Continue to sauté for a few minutes and add salt and pepper. Remove from heat and place cooked mixture in a bowl.
Top with fresh chopped parsley and balsamic glaze.
“This roasted red pepper recipe is one of our favorites for many reasons. It is super easy to toss together in a pinch, is extremely versatile and offers a tasty healthy option to add some diversity to your meals.
This recipe can be served hot with a fresh Veggie Wagon baguette or loaf of our sourdough bread as an appetizer or you can also use it as a topping for grilled chicken or fish. When serving this over grilled chicken or fish, you can add a touch of local honey drizzle to add a hint of sweetness. Pair it with some fresh Veggie Wagon mozzarella and you have fully ready to enjoy appetizer. Even though it is delicious the day you make it, one of our favorite things to do with this after 24 hours in the refrigerator is to place the mixture on top of a big green salad.”