Things taste bolder when roasted. No, not coffee beans… Take colorful bell peppers for example.
I don’t know if it’s a genetic reason similar to how some people don’t like cilantro, but I don’t like green bell peppers at all — raw or cooked. They taste like grassy dirt. On the other hand, being naturally sweeter, I can eat a whole plate of roasted red, orange and yellow bell peppers.
This is exactly what I did the first afternoon I arrived in Barcelona, Spain a couple of years ago. When ever I travel, to help avoid severe jetlag, I take a long walk as soon as I get settled. While walking, I discovered an out of the way, local restaurant where you order items from a glass case and the servers bring it to your table. The people there were not used to tourists, and maybe for that reason they gave us ginormous portions of everything. Or, perhaps they guessed we were Americans and they thought we all eat large portions! Regardless, the plate of roasted red peppers was a delicious warm welcome. Simple, bold, healthy and easy to make.
You’ve got three basic roasting options: oven roasted, grilled, or rotated every 2-3 minutes directly on a gas stovetop flame. I love the smokiness of grilling, but the consistency and roasting evenness of an oven almost always wins. However, the most important thing to do after you cook them is to bag them for 10 minutes. The steam created in the bag helps loosen the pepper’s skins.
- Eat warm with olive oil and salt as a side dish
- Dice into a vegetable salad
- Use pepper strips in a sandwich
- Blend them in a food processor and make a pesto or spread
Mediterranean Roasted Bell Peppers
- 3 – 4 bell peppers (red, orange, yellow, or a mix)
- Enough extra virgin fruity olive oil to generously drizzle on each piece
- Salt to taste
- Pre-heat oven to 400F (205C)
- Line a baking sheet with foil or parchment paper for easy clean up
- Place a rack (like a cookie or cake cooling rack) over the baking sheet, if you have one. Using a rack allows the heat to circulate around the peppers evenly. If you don’t have a rack, just rotate the peppers several times while roasting
- Roast the peppers for 35-45 minutes, until they are blistered, blackened and wilted
- Remove the peppers from the oven and place them into a paper bag (or plastic, or a foil pouch). Let stand for 10 minutes
- Remove the peppers from the bag and gently massage the skins off, using your thumbs and forefingers. Don’t be tempted to rinse them under running water or you’ll wash away a lot of the flavor. It’s ok if you don’t get every spec of skin off
- Remove the stems from each pepper and discard. Cut the peppers in half and remove the core and seeds with the back of a knife. Cut the pepper into quarters.
- Place peppers on a platter and drizzle with your best extra virgin olive oil and salt to taste. If you have leftovers, place in a sealable container and refrigerate for up to one week