There is nothing that makes a salad pop like adding freshly roasted red peppers. I just love their smoky flavor. Once you have tried them, there is no going back! And they can be used in so many recipes. Tonight, I am going to add them to my crepes stuffed with creamy mushrooms and swiss cheese recipe.
Making your own roasted red peppers is simple, easy! And they are so much better than store bought in a jar. If you are a beginner, I suggest only making a few at a time to start. If you are making a lot, like I did, enlist a helper!
Red peppers can be expensive in the States, but they are in season now. So perhaps my U.S. friends can find a grower who has them cheaper. In Turkey, they are also in season and the prices are coming down! Yesterday, I found them in the village of Akyurt for 1TL/kg. Who can resist that price?! Approximately 50¢ for 2.2 pounds!
So I bought 2 kilos. First I separated the smaller ones from the larger ones. Larger ones are easier when it comes to roasting. With the smaller ones, I removed the seeds and sliced them. I put them into a freezer bag and froze them for future use. They will come in handy in the Fall and Winter when the peppers are not easily available here. I will use them for sautés and soups.
This morning, I roasted the second half. These were not as large as I usually buy, so I used a new tool so I could roast them all at once.
SELECTING YOUR PEPPERS:
Buy larger peppers if possible. It will make the job easier in the long run. More pepper for less work! They also sit better on the stove top if you choose that method.
- Stove top – I always roast mine on the stove top (gas). Placing your peppers directly on the flame is the fastest method to grill them. It also provides the best smoky flavor. The downside is that it makes a big mess on the stove. Tips for cleanup are below.
- Outdoor Grill – I have not tried this method. But I imagine using an outdoor grill would be as fast and easy as the stove top method. The benefits would include having a smoke-free kitchen and easier cleanup!
- Oven – You can certainly roast them in the oven. I know people have both baked and broiled them. To me, baking takes too long and dries them out. I would definitely use the broiler if I were going to try this method. Either way, be sure to use a proper 2-piece broiling pan (a rack on top of a pan.) The pan will catch the drippings and the peppers will not stick to the pan. Depending on the tip of rack, you may need to use something (like the U.S. “Pam” spray) to prevent sticking to the rack.
- Microwave – Yes, people microwave them. They don’t have the flavor of roasted pepper at all. I am so disgusted with the idea of this method that I won’t even give you further details. If you want to try it, you are on your own!
- Tongs– You will need a pair of tongs. Longer ones are better because they give your hand distance from the heat. Shorter ones are okay if you are only using one stove top burner. I recommend a smooth surface on the end that grabs the peppers. You don’t want to risk breakage of the pepper.
- Paper Bag – You need one large enough to hold all of the peppers after they are cooked when cooling them. This is a great use for your recycled bags!
- Pan (optional) – There are pans made especially for this purpose. They can be used both in the oven and on the stove top. They have holes to allow the flame through while catching most of the mess. I have tried them and I don’t like them. They are a gimmick! They more than double the cook time and I find it impossible to completely roast the peppers on them.
- Racks (optional) – If grilling a lot of peppers at once on the stove top, find some type of rack to place over the burners. It is also helpful if the peppers are small. I used two ağaç saplı ızgara (an accessory that allows you to place things like burgers between two grids and flip them while grilling) and was able to grill 1/2 kilo at one time using 4 burners. 15TL at Metro Gross Markt, 7TL in a small store in Akyurt. A cooling rack like the kind used for cakes would also work, or the rack from your outdoor grill.
GRILLING ON THE STOVETOP:
This is my preferred method. Usually, I do only a few peppers and place them directly on the flame of one burner. But since today’s peppers were smaller and cheaper, I cooked 1/2 kilo (1 lb.) all at once.
- I opened two of the ağaç saplı ızgaraand covered the burners. I placed my peppers over the burners. (There’s little point in cleaning your stove first unless it is really bad. You will just be cleaning it again.)
- Let the peppers roast until completely black. Use your tongs to gently turn them as needed. The goal is to completely blacken the outside without breaking the skin or puncturing holes. The blackening produces the flavor. If the peppers break, moisture inside is released. That can cause the pepper to also burn on the inside. It is the heat/moisture that softens the inner part of the pepper. This is especially important for the U.S. red bell pepper because the skin is much thicker.
- When blackened, remove the peppers and place them in a paper bag. (You can not use plastic). Remove one at a time, and move the other peppers closer to the flame if necessary. Close the bag to retain some of the heat. The heat helps the inner part of the peppers to soften. The paper also allows them to breathe and cool slowly.
- Once cool, the blackened skin will rub off of the pepper with your hands. Hold the pepper in one hand and use the thumb and forefinger of the other hand to slide down the pepper from the stem to the tip. It doesn’t need to be perfect. The small black remnants are tasty and will not kill you. That being said, if you are a perfectionist, you can run them under cool water as you do this. For remaining red parts of skin that do not come off easily, you can either tug at the a little harder with your hands or use a small sharp knife to peel them.
- You can use your hands to pull the pepper apart into pieces or strips. you can also use a knife to do this. Remove the seeds and remaining stems and discard them. Running water also makes seed removal easier.
You are now ready to add them to a salad or your favorite recipe!
- Add to your favorite garden salad.
- On crusty bread with olive oil. For additional flavor add balsamic vinegar and shaved or shredded parmesan cheese.
- Add to your favorite pasta sauce.
- Add to roasted potatoes before serving.
- Add them to hummus.
- Use them with roasted eggplant in a Baba Ganoush recipe.
There are probably multiple methods for storage. I would assume you could freeze them in a container or a storage bag. I don’t think you will be able to use them on something like a salad afterwards though. It will change the texture and become mushy. You could still use them in something cooked.
I always jar them. I add olive oil (the better the oil, the better the flavor) and whole peppercorns. Fresh garlic is always great too!
In a jar, they will last in the refrigerator for quite a while, as long as they are covered with oil. Don’t be afraid to squeeze them in and add more. The oil can sometimes crystallize in the cold. To remedy that, bring them to room temperature before serving.
If you need to keep them longer, you will need to look up methods of canning to pack them in a airtight sealed jar.
- Before starting, remove anything that can easily catch fire away from the stove top (grill, or any other appliance you choose.)
- Make sure you have good ventilation. Turn on the exhaust fan. Open doors and windows.
- Have a plan in place should a fire start. In all my many years of grilling peppers, this has never happened. But a good rule is always “Safety First!
- Regardless of the method you choose, DO NOT WALK AWAY! You must keep an eye on the peppers especially for safety reasons.
- Keep a good eye on the paper bag. The hot ash on the peppers could cause a fire. Again, this has never happened to me – but it could. (Knock on wood).
TIPS & SUGGESTIONS:
- Try to get the peppers completely blackened. It is not a problem if they aren’t. The blackened skin easily rubs off with your hands. Any skin remaining red skin will need to be peeled (or pulled).
- For easy cleanup of your stove top, use a wet paper towel first. you may also try using a small handheld vacuum cleaner to pick up the ash if there’s a lot. I find the paper towel method the easiest.
- Use a food processor or a blender to turn the peppers into a paste. The paste can be frozen in a plastic container, storage bag, or in ice cube trays. use the paste to toss into soups, stews and sauces! If seeds don’t bother you, there is no need to remove them before processing.
Afiyet Olsun and Happy Birthday Allie!