Some people remember their friends’ birthdays and less important, but still memorable, moments such as the first time they tied their own shoes. I do remember my own birthday, but famously forget those of even my closest family members and friends. (Don’t even think of asking me what I ate yesterday or where I went last weekend!) So it isn’t surprising that I don't remember how or when I learned to roast red peppers. On the other hand, I also cannot remember a time when I cooked and didn’t know how to roast red peppers.
Why roast red peppers and why blog about it? To the first, if you haven’t had one, just try a home-roasted pepper and you'll understand how far superior it is to the stuff you buy in a jar at the grocery. (Also, as long as fresh peppers are decently priced, the homemade version is far less expensive.) I love roasted red peppers in every season, but especially in spring and summer, as ripe peppers overflow the farm stands and local grocery bins. As to why blog - it’s such an easy and neat tip that I can’t bear to keep it to myself.
I roast red peppers over an open flame on my stove. All you need (besides a pepper) are an open flame, a set of tongs, a paper bag and running water. The whole process takes less than 30 minutes. During half of that time the pepper is cooling in the paper bag, so you can be doing something else, such as figuring out how you are going to use the pepper or reading a good book.
Wash and dry the pepper well, then put it on the open flame. Turn the pepper occasionally with the tongs until it is burnt (blackened) all over. Although you don’t have to handle the pepper (with the tongs) often, you do need to keep watch as the skin chars. Also, the pepper may “spit”, so be careful when you get close to it.
Once the pepper is fully blackened, take it off the flame, put it in a clean paper bag, close the bag, and let the pepper cool for about 15 minutes. After the pepper has cooled (to the point when the bottom of the bag feels cool to the touch), hold the pepper under cool, running water. Gently slide most or all of the blackened skin off the pepper under the running water. Cut or pry the pepper open with your hands, and clean out the white ribs and seeds. The cleaned and roasted pepper is ready to be sliced, chopped or even stuffed whole.
If you don't have a gas burner, I would imagine that a broiler or outside grill should work for the first part of this method, but I have never tried those methods.
Here are some of my favorite ways to use roasted peppers:
- In omelets or scrambled eggs, or in egg salad
- On top of pizza
- In cous cous salad
- As a salad topping, with feta cheese and olives
How do you use roasted peppers?