Pepper, sweet

Pepper, sweet

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From
Encyclopedia of Food and Cookery

Sweet peppers (also called capsicums) are members of the same large Capsicum family as the hot chilli pepper. Their flesh has a sweet, vigorous flavour, which enlivens salads and many cooked dishes, and their square-ish hollow shape (the name ‘capsicum’ means box) makes them perfect for stuffing.

Peppers come in a mosaic of colours – brilliant red, yellow, orange or green. Red peppers are fully ripe ones, and are much sweeter and milder than the unripe green ones; they are also twice as rich in vitamin C. When the lovely elongated yellow and orange ones appear on the market, make use of them for their season is all too short.

When buying peppers, avoid any that are wrinkled or have soft spots. They should be smooth, firm and gleaming. Store in the refrigerator crisper and use them within a week or so of purchase.

Basic preparation: The fleshy inner ribs, or core, and the seeds are discarded before using. Cut the pepper in half lengthways, or cut a lid from the top if you want to keep it whole, and pull out core and seeds with your fingers. Cut away the stem (unless you are retaining it for its decorative effect in a stuffed pepper). Wash under running water.

To skin peppers: It is very often worth skinning peppers. It makes their flavour more delicate and changes their texture from crisp to richly soft. Spear whole pepper on a long-handled fork and turn it over a gas flame, or put it close to a very hot grill (broiler), turning until skin is charred all over. Put pepper into a paper bag for 10 minutes to steam, then rub skin off under cold water. Red or yellow peppers are easier to skin than green ones.

To blanch peppers: Some recipes suggest blanching peppers before stuffing, again to give more delicate flavour. After removing core and seeds, drop pepper into boiling water for a minute or two, pushing pepper down well under the water. Remove and refresh under cold running water. Drain well and proceed with recipe.

Ways to use peppers:

A simple way to cook peppers is to cut them into strips and fry in a little oil, perhaps flavoured with garlic. Season with salt and pepper and serve with grills or roasted meat.

Halved and drizzled with oil, peppers may be grilled (broiled) with meat.

Sliced into rings, cut into strips or diced they are used raw in many salads.

Use in stews, soups or casseroles.

Strips of raw pepper may be part of a dish of crudités (see Crudités) to use with a dipping sauce.

Ingredients

Quantity Ingredient
see method for ingredients

Method

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