Roasted peppers are an essential part of many diets, including several Eastern European cuisines like Serbian, Croatian, and Bulgarian. In these regions, cooks use sunflower oil instead of olive oil to preserve the peppers, as olives aren't indigenous to the area. Other cultures, such as Hispanic, Spanish, and Italian, commonly char vegetables before using them as ingredients for sauces, stews, or as accompaniments for meats, cheeses, and bread. Most often the peppers are simply put on top of a stove burner until black on all sides, then peeled and seasoned and stored in olive oil.
To prepare these peppers you can choose to roast them by baking, broiling, or grilling, all with excellent results. If you're going to use olive oil to preserve your peppers, choose one that's mild in flavor to let the peppers shine without the oil overpowering the mixture.
- 4 red peppers, washed and dried
- 1/2 cup sunflower or olive oil
- 2 tablespoons vinegar, or more to taste
- 4 garlic cloves (finely chopped)
- Salt to taste
- Black pepper to taste
Gather the ingredients.
To bake, preheat the oven to 400 F. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil.
Place peppers on pan and roast, turning occasionally until all sides are blistered and slightly blackened. This can take from 15 to 25 minutes.
If broiling, preheat the broiler and line a baking sheet with aluminum foil. Follow the same directions as for baking, checking often as the direct heat will char the peppers more quickly.
If grilling, set the heat to medium-high and oil the grates. Place the peppers directly on greased grates and cook, rotating the peppers to char evenly. Grilling the peppers can take from 10 to 15 min. (Grilling the peppers can speed up the process so you need to watch the peppers at all times to avoid over-charring the skins and potentially tearing of the pepper meat due to the heat. This will cause the vegetables' liquid to gush out, and the grill's flame to catch a spark.)
Once the peppers are blackened by grilling, baking, or broiling place them in a heatproof bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Or place them in a sturdy resealable plastic bag and close it. By steaming the peppers, the charred skins loosen and will be easier to peel off. Let rest for 15 minutes or until cool enough to handle.
When the peppers are cool enough to handle, remove the stems, skins, seeds, and membranes with the help of a small knife. If there are pieces with charred skin and seeds still intact, rinse the pepper pieces with cold water. The peppers can be left in large pieces or cut into strips, although large pieces are more traditional. Transfer to a serving bowl.
Add oil, vinegar, garlic, and liberal amounts of salt and pepper to the peppers. Toss until well coated. Allow peppers to marinate at room temperature for 30 minutes. Serve immediately or refrigerate.
Here are some ways to use the roasted peppers:
- Use them chopped in salads. Toss arugula, peppers, goat cheese, walnuts, olive oil, and balsamic vinegar for a quick, hearty salad.
- Include a bowl of roasted peppers in a charcuterie spread, alongside crusty bread and salty crackers.
- Include the peppers on a cheese plate, along with fruit chutneys and honey.
- Use the peppers as a sandwich filling by layering some chopped peppers with smoked meats and cheeses.
- Blend 1/2 cup of roasted peppers with 1 cup of cream cheese. Add powdered garlic, salt, and pepper. Use this dip for chips, crackers, or for spreading on bread.
- Sauté onions and garlic in olive oil. Add cooked pasta, salt, and pepper. Add a generous amount of chopped roasted peppers and fresh spinach. Let cook until the spinach has softened, for about 2 minutes. Serve with Pecorino cheese and fresh bread.
- Use the peppers as filling for a quiche. Mix 6 eggs, 1 cup of chopped spinach, 1/4 cup of onions, a handful of chopped basil, 1/2 cup of roasted peppers, salt, and pepper. Place the mixture in a store-bought pastry crust and bake at 350 F until cooked.