Two years ago, my husband, son and I traveled up to Windflower Farm to see where Farmer Ted grows the bounty of vegetables that finds its way to Brooklyn and our kitchen each week. On that trip, when my son Emory was 3 years old, he picked a bell pepper from the field and bit into it like an apple. Impressed by this vegetable lover, Farmer Ted encouraged him to pick another. By the end of the weekend, Emory had consumed 6 raw bell peppers plucked straight from their plants. Two years later, he's simply stopped liking them.
So we went from not getting enough peppers to acquiring a stockpile over the months of August and September. I've been challenged to find ways they can be used to appeal to a 5-year-old and the rest of us. Fire roasting peppers (and other vegetables and fruit) deepens their flavor and prepares them for use in all types of dishes like spreads, soups, purées, salads, hors d'oeuvres. Here's how to roast a bell pepper to perfection. See notes about applying this to other items, like eggplants, squash, pumpkins, chili peppers, tomatoes, tomatillos, and more...
- Stove top - when you only have one or two peppers to roast, this method is exciting and efficient and does not require heating up your oven
- Oven roast - utilize this method if you have more time to set it and forget it and have 2 or more items to roast, or larger items. Although peppers will be less charred, you will have the same result with moderately smokey flavor and tender flesh.
- Grill - for when the season and occasion calls for outdoor cooking
Here's what you do:
There are countless uses for fire roasted bell peppers (and eggplants, tomatoes, onions, squash, corn, tomatillos, chili peppers, and more). Some of my favorites are to evenly chop up some charred bits and use in soups, chowders, and curries, or to slice peppers, tomatoes and squash for topping a salad or dice into a salsa or purée eggplant into smokey baba ganoush and peppers into roasted red pepper hummus (recipes coming soon), but one of my all time favorite uses of fire roasted red peppers is muhammara, a smokey, spicy, tangy and complex spread from middle eastern cooking that's great for topping a broiled artic char or dipping polenta fries into.