March 4, 2013

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red bell peppers, that's it


1. Place your bell peppers on a sheet pan (cookie sheet). If you don't have a sheet pan, you can use a casserole dish or a roasting pan, it's no big deal. Also, get out a large bowl, not one that will melt, but either stainless steel or a glass one along with some plastic wrap and set them to the side.

2. Put the pan of peppers under the broiler in the oven. They should be on the top rack of your oven unless they touch the heating element in which case you'll need to put them down a rack lower.

3. Keep the oven door open just enough where you can look in. Most ovens have a spot where the door will stay around four or five inches open. The point of leaving the door open is more so that you don't forget about your peppers in there because it's easy to walk away for too long. So, don't walk away, stay there and pepper-sit, your bell peppers.

4. When one of the sides turns black (the side closest to the broiler), turn the pepper a quarter of the way. Then, when the next side is black, turn the pepper by a quarter. Do this until the skin is black all the way around.

5. Remove the pan from the oven and place the peppers into the bowl that you got out earlier.

6. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap as fast as you can. We are trying to trap the steam.

7. Let them sit in the bowl, covered with the plastic wrap for at least 15 minutes. You can let them sit longer if you happen to be doing something else, but I wouldn't leave them for more then 40 minutes for sanitation reasons.

8. Remove one pepper from the bowl and place it on a cutting board or plate. Be careful because they are probably still hot or may have hot juices inside. I wear gloves for this part.

9. Gently remove the blackened skin. Then, hold the pepper upside-down and pull the stem off. When you do this, some juice and seeds will come out.

10. Open the pepper up and remove all of the seeds. Your pepper is now roasted and ready to use.

How to Choose a Bell Pepper

No matter what color bell pepper you are shopping for, look for peppers that have deep, vivid colors, are heavy for their size, have a smooth, wrinkle free texture, and only push in slightly when you squeeze them softly.

A little extra information on bell peppers

Bell peppers are fruits... well botanically speaking because they contain the seeds of the plant. However, as far as the kitchen goes, they are generally treated like vegetables. They originated in Mexico, Central America, and Northern South America and made their way around the world from there on trade ships and such back in the 14 and 1500's. Of course, they have lots of other names through out the world including capsicum and paprika. Bell peppers are a member of the Capsicum genus - Why do we care? Well, members of the capsicum genus produce the chemical capsaicin and capsaicin is the chemical in peppers that makes them hot. The higher the level of capsaicin, the hotter the pepper. However, bell peppers are the only member of the genus that don't produce any capsaicin. So do we still care that they're in that genus - a, yeah, now you can answer that question if you're ever on Jeopardy or you can impress your friends at the dinner table. OK, so how about some nutrition facts. Red bell peppers are high in vitamin A and vitamin C, they have around 209mg of vitamin C compared to about 70mg in an orange. I should note here though that cooking will destroy at least part of the vitamin C. So, if you want to get all the nutrition, raw is better. Bell peppers are also high in carotenoids (a group of antioxidants) including alpha-carotene, beta-carotene, cryptoxanthin, lycopene, lutein, and zeaxanthin. There is a ton more nutrition information out there if you want it.

Alicia P. is a Chef and Le Cordon Bleu graduate. She has a website where you can learn to cook like a Chef at home - for free!

For more great cooking tips and lots of recipes visit

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