Found mainly in Puerto Rican, Cuban and Dominican cuisine, the Cubanelle pepper, also called Cuban pepper, is a sweet, mild capsicum that's great for making sauces, adding to pizza, stuffing, and eating raw. Commonly found in supermarkets, these six-inch peppers are worth getting to know, as they're a delicious, vibrant, and inexpensive way to add flavors to all kinds of dishes.
What Are Cubanelle Peppers?
Cubanelle peppers are six to eight inches in size, with a slight curling at the end of the tail. They're typically sold when bright green, but mature peppers come in shades of yellow, orange, and red as well. They grow in late July to September, depending the growing region. Most are imported to the United States from the Dominican Republic.
With origins in South and Central America, the hearty Cubanelle pepper is a traditional ingredient in sofrito, a tomato, pepper, and garlic base used in all sorts of recipes. Cubanelles are also popular in Italian food, a direct consequence of Spanish and Portuguese explorers bringing it further into Europe.
In Sicily, Cubanelle peppers are stuffed with pine nuts, bread and seasonings, and baked. Another popular dish is the classic Italian sausage sandwich, topped with sauteed Cubanelle peppers.
How To Use Cubanelle Peppers
There's a slight sweet heat to these peppers that makes them a good ingredient to mix with rich foods like cheese, meats, and sauces. Because the pepper isn't too thick and has a low water content, they're easily flash-fried to top a sandwich, add flavor and depth to an omelet, or spruce up a salad. Thinly slice to add flavor to homemade pizza instead of green bell peppers.
What Do Cubanelle Peppers Taste Like?
Cubanelle peppers have a mellow honey-mixed-with-pepper flavor with a low heat. They're not spicy, but they're not quiet as mild as regular sweet peppers. The flesh of the Cubanelle is thinner than a bell pepper or poblano and is more similar to an Anaheim. Raw Cubanelle pepper has a pleasing snap and tender texture, due to its lower water content.
Cubanelle Pepper Recipes
Cubanelle pepper are great in any recipe that calls for a mild, slightly sweet variety such as bell, classic sweet peppers, or Anaheim. Experiment with different types and see what tastes best to you.
Where to Buy Cubanelle Peppers
Your best bet for finding this tasty capsicum is to hit up a shop with specialty fruits and vegetables or head to the local farmers' market in late summer and early fall when peppers are in season. Look for a long, bright green, yellow, or orangish-red skinned pepper that curls slightly and has little wrinkle to the outside. They also grow well in summer gardens.
These peppers will last for weeks fresh and whole in your refrigerator's crisper drawer. Seal any cut, unused pepper in a container to avoid moisture loss. Store leftover cooked peppers in an airtight container and use within a few days.
Nutrition and Benefits
Like other capsicum varieties, Cubanelles are high in vitamin C and K, potassium, folate, vitamins B6, and manganese.