Roasted Sweet Peppers

Roasting peppers is one of those intimidating techniques that becomes amazingly simple once you try it a few times. And it’s not only easy, but kind of fun as well. I learned how to roast a sweet pepper from that culinary masterpiece, “The World According to Garp” by John Irving. No really – I did! The main character roasts a pepper to make a vinaigrette, and I was so intrigued that I put the book down and tried it immediately. My first few attempts were less than completely impressive, but I am going to help you avoid my early mistakes.

There are other ways of doing it, but 30 years later, this is still my favorite. This does require the use of a gas range, though you can achieve similar results with a gas grill or a broiler. I can’t imagine it would be a very good idea on an electric range, but I have never owned one, so I can’t say for sure. I think an electric broiler would work just fine though. Anyway – turn on your burners and let them heat up for a minute or two. The peppers you use should be in good shape. These are actually some of the last from our garden, brought in right before we got a killing frost. I let them ripen a bit out on the counter, because they taste sweeter that way. When the burner has heated for a minute, lay the pepper right on the grate.sp2Use metal tongs to turn the pepper as the skin on each side begins to char a bit. Don’t try to get each side completely charred before turning it.sp3Just keep watching and turning, and go back over to get all surfaces nicely charred.sp4Don’t forget the top and bottom. An even, heavy charring is what ensures success here.sp5You can do one on each burner, though you have to pay a bit closer attention.  I had 5 to do, so I did the single one first and then the other four.sp1If a side won’t sit level by itself, hold it with the tongs until that part is done.sp6The biggest mistake is in not getting the skin charred enough.  The moisture in the pepper itself protects the flesh from burning while the skin gets very done.  They are much harder to peel if they aren’t done enough, and the flavor will not be as intense or sweet.sp7As they get charred all over, immediately put them into a heat proof bowl, and cover with plastic wrap.   You can use a small paper bag if you are doing just one or two, but for more, the bag gets too soggy, so I use a bowl instead.sp8See?  All nice in steamy in there.  Leave them covered until they are cool enough to handle.sp9Now comes the messy part. No matter how messy it gets – DO NOT wash them.  No washing. You can take it!  Washing the skin off will take a lot of the flavor and the special character that all of this charring brings to meat of the pepper.  Instead, you want to either rub the skin off with a paper towel or pull it off with your fingers.  If you have a cotillion to attend that night, you will want to wear rubber gloves, because it might leave your hands looking a little on the grubby side.sp10Once all of the charred skin is removed, go back over them with a fresh paper towel to clean them up a bit more.sp11You can store them whole in the fridge for a few days at this point.  When you are ready to use one, cut it in half and remove the stem area, ribs and seeds.  Cut into strips or a dice or leave intact, depending on the recipe you are using for them.  This one ended up on an awesome pizza, but some of the others went into another special dish I will show you in a few days.sp12I encourage you to give this a try – it is a lot easier than you may think and the result is well worth it.  You don’t have to buy those little jars of overpriced roasted peppers at the store, when you have this method under your belt.  That Garp was a pretty smart fella!

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20 Responses to Roasted Sweet Peppers

  1. Gail says:

    I have long roasted my peppers this way but never realized the “Garp” connection!…now I will have to re-read that book:)

  2. CM says:

    I can add one more thing to my “just when I thought I’ve seen it all” list. : )

    I heard about another coworker that has become a fan and his wife told me that the recipes are for him to cook with! … I know that warms your heart!

  3. i love that book! And your roasted peppers look delicious! I came across your site from the foodieblogroll and I’d love to bring over our readers to your site if you wont mind, just add this little foodista widget to this post and it’s all set to go, Thanks!

  4. charlane says:

    exactly how i do mine and it works every time

  5. Laura says:

    my peppers never seem to make it into the house ever since i was a kid straight off the plant into the mouth has been my motto LOL… dont get me wrong a few do make it inside to be cooked into something … I love peppers and will have to try this sometime :)

  6. Gera says:

    This is how my Grandmother did them also. Always they were delicious. Cheers!

  7. Edith says:

    These are beautiful photos that explain the whole process so well. Thanks for the wonderful explanation.

  8. zerrin says:

    I love this way to roast peppers, too. It’s so easy, but I didn’t know about the plastic bags or heat proof bowl step. I’m sure it makes the process even easier. Thanks.

  9. My readers probably roll their eyes every time I post YET ANOTHER recipe calling for roasted peppers! Glad I’m not alone in my obsession.

  10. Kate says:

    This is one thing I actually know how to do and I love the flavor imparted. I don’t have a gas range and have just used the broiler in the oven.
    And I love it that you read this in the book. I read that book too and it was one of my favorites.

  11. You got me. Roasted pepper is one thing I still feel relunctant to try. The black bits look scary but they look so nice after peeling. I do not have a gas stove at home but electric one so this method will not work for me. I think there is another way to do in the oven. My Tukish friend has a great salad using roasted pepper and I have to overcome this fear before I can make that wonderful dish : )

  12. beverlyz says:

    This method looks easy even though it may be messy!

  13. marriane says:

    Our Italian friends roast peppers on their grill alongside sausage. It is a wonderful treat. I think I will try them in my broiler. And I love your photos of this by the way!

  14. I wish I had a gas stove so that I could do this! It looks like such a neat trick :)

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  16. Hillary says:

    I’ve seen this technique before – thanks for reminding me about it! You don’t have to go out to the grill to roast peppers. Very easy!

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  19. gia says:

    If you don’t have a gas stove you can roast peppers in the oven. simply pour some olive oil on a foil lined tray and add some sea salt, brush your peppers down with this mixture then roast at 375 or above turning about every 8 minutes..(takes around 40- 60 minutes) put in a bowl covered with plastic and let stand til cool enough to handle. peel and let drain in a colander. i buy when on sale and freeze the peppers :)

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