How to bring your peppers alive: add heat and I am not talking Scoville heat units.

Updated: Sep 2


Having done some extensive testing on various recipes it is fair to say that roasted peppers do taste 'different' than unroasted. That difference is more noticeable if you also peel the peppers after roasting as the peel itself is something of a 'flavour barrier'. The roasting process doesn't just heat the peppers, but the high, dry heat also causes a bit of both scorching and caramelization of the sugars.

You can buy already-roasted peppers at deli counters or in jars or cans. They may be packed in a light brine, a vinegar solution, or an oil. Some brines and vinegar solutions impart more of a taste to the peppers than others do.


Roasting Peppers is a bit of work — enough that, combined with the fuel costs, it makes you appreciate why Roasted Peppers cost so much at deli counters. But they really are good like this, whenever you have the time. Roasted red pepper antipasto is an example of the many versatile and delicious ways you can use roasted red peppers. Once you have tasted the difference there’s no going back. With a little know how and a bit of effort you will be able to use them in so many ways. Making roasted red peppers is a bit messy, but so simple and easy, because the skins slip right off once they are charred.


In addition to the common red and green peppers, you may see white, purple, yellow, brown or orange. The flavours differ a bit by colour. Sweet peppers don't come in just red and green anymore—yellow, orange, and even purple bell peppers are fairly commonplace. Plus, there are more kinds of sweet pepper than just different colours of bell peppers.





  • The brown or chocolate variety is sweet and green inside; the skin turns green when cooked.

  • The orange pepper retains most of its orange colour inside and out when cooked.

  • The deep purple pepper is the colour of eggplant. The flesh is green and sweet; the outer skin turns green when cooked.

  • The red pepper is actually a green pepper left to ripen on the vine. Red bells have more sugar, so they’re sweeter and slightly more tender. They retain their vibrant colour when cooked and are the best for roasting.

  • The golden yellow pepper has yellow flesh; the colour stays golden when cooked. It’s very sweet and mild.

  • The white pepper is actually more of a creamy ivory colour with a very mild flavour that diminishes even more when cooked.

My favourite is the red one, simply roasted, mixed with oil, garlic, salt and sometimes a little oregano


There are several different cooking methods to choose from. If you roast them in the oven, you can save yourself some cleaning up work if you cover the baking tray you’re going to put them on. Don’t bake them just on oven racks, as they will release a lot of liquid.

The key things to remember when roasting are:

  • Use baking parchment instead of foil (as this can transfer a metallic flavour to the peppers). 

  • Blackening and blistering the peppers is a good thing. The more blackened the skin becomes, the easier it will be to peel. This also gives a tasty, lightly charred flavour to the flesh of the peppers. 

  • Stick with red peppers. These have the sweetest flavour and work best for roasting. Most varieties of red pepper work well, including Romano.

  • I prefer to open the peppers and clean out the spines and seeds and membrane before roasting and peeling. With hotter peppers this amplifies the flavour effect of the roast because it clears away most of the 'heat' (capsaicin) allow you to really taste the pepper and not the heat.


Basic roasted pepper cooking method:

How to roast peppers in the oven

1. Heat oven to 220C/200C fan/gas 7.

2. Line a large, flat baking sheet with baking parchment.

3. Halve the peppers and arrange on the baking sheet cut-side down.

4. Roast for 30-35 mins until the skin is shrivelled and lightly blistered.

5. Set aside to cool completely before peeling. 



How to peel roast peppers

Once your peppers are roasted, pile them (still hot) into large food bags and seal. Set aside to cool in the bags, then peel off the skins and scrape away any lingering seeds. Alternatively, leave your peppers to cool at room temperature before peeling. The skin should slip right off if the peppers have been roasted well, so if you’re having trouble removing the skins, it may be worth cooking your peppers for slightly longer. 
















How do I store roasted peppers?

Once peeled and cooled, you can store your peppers in an airtight container in the fridge for five days. Alternatively, slice the peppers and put them in a jar with good-quality olive oil and crushed garlic cloves, then store in the fridge for up to one week. Alternatively pack in appropriate quantities into freezer bags or containers, and freeze for up to 6 months. There is no need to coat them in oil, etc. Some advise that they freeze better longer if frozen with the skins on — but then you lose the ease of hauling them ready to use from the freezer.

To thaw quickly, pop the bag into hot water for 10 to 15 minutes. You can use them exactly as you could have if they had not been frozen.


Some suggested Pintxo recipes

Anchovy, Red Pepper, and Manchego Pintxos Recipe


Anchovy, Red Pepper, and Manchego Pintxos

For this recipe, anchovy fillets, roasted red peppers, and Manchego cheese are spiked onto a garlic-rubbed baguette round and quickly toasted under the broiler. A drizzle of sherry vinegar right before serving provides some sharp acidity to cut through the saltiness of the anchovy, and nuttiness of the cheese. Salty, tangy, and crisp, these pintxos are great pre-cursors to a glass of wine or beer.

Ingredients

· 12 (1/2-inch) slices of baguette

· 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

· 1 medium clove garlic, cut in half

· 12 thin slices of manchego cheese

· 1 jarred roasted red bell pepper, drained and cut into 12 slivers

· 12 Oritzi anchovy fillets, drained

· Sherry vinegar, for drizzling

· 12 Pintxo skewers, for serving


Instructions

  1. Brush both sides of the baguette slices with the olive oil, then place the baguette slices on a baking sheet. Lightly toast the bread directly under the broiler until golden brown, 30-seconds to 1 minute per side. Remove the bread from the broiler and rub the top of each baguette slice with the cut side of the garlic.

  2. Place the manchego slices on each slice of bread, followed by a sliver of roasted red bell pepper, followed by an anchovy fillet. Return the baguette slices to the broiler and broil just until the cheese melts, 30-seconds to 1 minute.

  3. Remove the topped baguette slices from the oven, then secure each with a toothpick. sprinkle with sherry vinegar and serve immediately.


Basque Pintxo Piquillo Peppers Stuffed With Bonito

Red pepper stuffed with Morcilla Pintxo

Stuffed piquillo peppers are one of the most typical pintxos of the Basque Country. The best hand-picked and roasted piquillo peppers come from Lodosa, a small town near Pamplona famed for its 'little beak' peppers. Piquillo peppers are most commonly stuffed with black pudding, crab or bonito, a species of tuna prized for its lighter coloured flesh and richer flavour.

We chose bonito for our stuffed piquillo peppers recipe, mixing it with finely chopped shallot, a tiny dollop of mayonnaise and plenty of lemon juice and seasoning. The smokey, char-grilled flavour of the piquillos with the fresh, marine taste of the bonito and the crunchy bread it is served on make for a simple but winning combination.


Ingredients

  • 1 Shallot

  • 2 160g Oritzi Bonito

  • 4 Tsp mayonnaise

  • Juice of 1 lemon

  • 1 jar piquillo peppers

  • Crusty bread

Instructions

  1. Finely chop the shallot.

  2. Drain the bonito.

  3. Mix together the shallot, bonito/tuna, mayonnaise and lemon juice in a bowl using a fork.

  4. Drain the piquillo peppers and stuff them with the mixture using a teaspoon. Use the end of the teaspoon to push the bonito down to the very end of the piquillo pepper.

  5. Present the stuffed peppers on crusty bread (or toasted gluten free bread), secured with a bamboo looped skewer.

Pintxos should always look beautiful! It’s not written anywhere that pintxos are meant to be beautiful, but it’s kind of an unspoken rule. They just are. Pretty much always. If you think about it, the slice of bread is a bit like a food pedestal that automatically showcases the food on top as if it was something precious that needs to be elevated and put on top of a sort of foundation. Making your pintxos look beautiful is half the fun of making them in the first place, and as a firm believer that we “eat with our eyes”, it just all makes sense to me. So get your creative brain flowing, get a few toothpicks to hold them together and have fun!

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