How to Cook Roasted Red Peppers
Have you ever cringed in the grocery store over the price of a jar of roasted red peppers? Sure, red peppers aren't the cheapest vegetable around, but what in the world could the roasting process do to drive the price up that much? Are the peppers seasoned in diamond dust? Brushed with gold flake? Well, forget about those expensive jars, because I am here to tell you exactly how to roast those red peppers yourself. It's easier than you might think, you will spend a fraction of the price, and as a bonus, your home-roasted peppers will have twice the flavor of those in the jar, because they will be made fresh!
The Importance of Char
In order to properly roast peppers, you will need to char the skin. It will become blackened and bubbly, and will look like you have completely burnt and ruined your pepper! Inside, however, the flesh of your peppers will be perfectly roasted. There are several methods to achieve the right char. You may use whichever method you prefer:
- Grill or Gas Stovetop: Turn the flame to medium-high and place the peppers directly on the grate. As the skin of the peppers begin to blacken and bubble up, turn the peppers with tongs, so that the skin evenly chars all the way around (see photos of this method below).
- Broiler or 500 degree F Oven: Place the peppers on a cookie sheet lined with foil. Roast in the oven for 30 minutes, turning halfway through. The skins should be evenly charred all the way around.
Once the skin is charred, the peppers will be placed into a brown paper bag that will be rolled shut. This will trap the steam inside and achieve several crucial results: the charred skin will loosen, so it can be easily removed; and the flesh will continue to cook to perfection. The end result is a perfectly roasted pepper!
Roasted Red Peppers
- 4 red peppers
- 1 brown paper bag
- Olive oil, if desired
- Wash the peppers, removing the stickers and thoroughly drying them.
- Char your peppers, evenly and thoroughly, using your preferred method (Stovetop/Grill or Broiler/Oven).
- Immediately place the roasted peppers into the paper bag, and roll the top closed. Leave them to sit, undisturbed for 15-20 minutes, or until the peppers are cool enough to touch with your bare hands.
- Peel off the skin, remove the tops, and squeeze out the seeds, using clean hands. Never use water! It is ok if there are some small bits of charred skin that you cannot remove--it only adds to the flavor!
- You may use the roasted peppers immediately if desired. If you would like to store them, place them in a container with a tightly fitting lid and drizzle them with olive oil. They may be stored in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.
Uses for Roasted Red Peppers
Roasted red peppers are a delicious inclusion to all sorts of recipes. If you're looking for more ways to use them, here are some ideas to liven up your meals:
- Add an extra layer of flavor to your favorite sandwich: it is excellent in combination with meats such as chicken or turkey, pairs nicely with vegetables such as lettuce, tomatoes, red onions and avocados, and is delicious with spreadable goat cheese in cold sandwiches, or melted mozzarella or Monterey Jack in hot sandwiches.
- Dice and use as a topping for your favorite pasta, salad or pizza.
- Sauté with onions and garlic, then puree with vegetable stock and a dash of heavy cream to make a creamy roasted red pepper soup.
- Chop and mix with diced artichoke hearts or kalamata olives, garlic, and capers. Season with salt, pepper, olive oil, fresh parsley and lemon juice to make a delicious tapenade.
- Make a roasted vegetable salad, combining roasted eggplant, zucchini, red onions and red peppers. Season with salt, pepper, a splash of balsamic vinegar and extra virgin olive oil. Toss with crumbled feta.
- Blend into homemade hummus to make roasted red pepper hummus.