Tuesday, September 11, 2012
Enjoy the taste, look and benefits of Bell Peppers!
Not only are bell peppers delicious to eat and beautiful to look at, but they are also packed with nutritional benefits. All bell peppers are high in vitamin C with the red pepper having more than twice as much as the green pepper. The bell pepper is also a wonderful source of vitamin A, vitamin B, antioxidants and carotenoids.
The bell pepper, also known as sweet pepper or capsicum, is of the species Capsicum annuum and native to Mexico, Central America and northern South America. Bell peppers are botanically fruits, but in culinary contexts they are usually considered to be vegetables.
Bell peppers can be bought year-round, but they are most abundant and tasty during the months of August and September. Colors range from the burgeoning colors of green to yellow, and ripen to the sweeter-tasting colors of red, orange, and sometimes purple and brown, depending on the variety.
Picking a good pepper is easy: they should have a smooth and tight skin (no wrinkles, or soft or bruised spots), plus bright color, and feel firm and solid. A look at the stem is another place to peek: it should appear fresh, green, and not dry or desiccated.
Don’t wash a pepper until use: ideally store unwashed peppers in a cool place covered with a kitchen towel, or second best is in the vegetable compartment in your refrigerator (but not in plastic, which will create excess moisture). Some even freeze them, either whole, or cleaned, deseeded, and chopped
Peppers can be eaten raw or cooked. If eating it raw, wash it first, then core it (cut around the stem with a paring knife). Cut the pepper in half lengthwise and then remove any seeds and the white core/ribs—you can try shaking the seeds into the garbage. Don’t be tempted to use water to remove the seeds: it will just waterlog it. The pepper is then ready to be cut into strips, chopped, or diced. For those want to stuff a pepper, cut it horizontally instead of cutting it lengthwise then remove the seeds and core. One precaution: even though peppers are typically sweet, be sure to wash your hands well when all is said and done—don’t touch your eyes!
Peppers are also delicious roasted. They can be grilled with tongs over a gas burner until blistered and the skin starts to blacken, or in the broiler: simply put cut pepper halves on a cookie sheet and roast. The best way to peel the skin is to then place the peppers in a bowl covered with plastic wrap, or in a paper bag. Steam for about 15 minutes, and then peel the skin off with your fingers (or a knife if they’re too hot).
Peppers can also be stuffed, or sautéed—peppers are a delicious addition to a stir-fry. Peppers also pair well with meat, like a classic Italian sausage and peppers dish, or with steak. Some like to puree peppers into dips, like hummus, or into soups
Here are a few recipes to try from Sauver.com:
Poor Man's Caviar
Black-eyed peas, scallions, and both red and green peppers combine in a salad that's equally delicious spread on bread or spooned from bowl.
Baked Chicken with Peppers
This vibrant baked chicken and peppers dish is as simple as it is classic.
Peppers in Tomato Sauce
Serve these preserved peppers over pasta or chicken for a bright meal.
This Southern Italian pesto gets its hue from tomatoes and red bell peppers.
Green Pepper Butter
Minced roasted green pepper adds irresistible flavor to this savory compound butter.
Muhammara (Roasted Red Pepper, Walnut and Pomegranate Molasses Dip)
This Middle Eastern dip is one part sweet, one part tangy, and one part spicy; it's the perfect combination for slathering on sandwiches or serving with homemade pita chips.
Sweet Pepper Salad
Roasted red and green peppers get a kick from sugar and vinegar -- great served with grilled meats.
Eggplant Stuffed Peppers
Bell peppers are blistered over a flame before being stuffed with eggplant, breadcrumbs, and anchovies.
photo credit: wallyg via photo pin cc