This week began with a most exciting event! It was so exciting that I would like to share it with the blogging community. Cue drum roll.
I woke up with a scorpion in my bed! A live one!
I’ve seen them (and killed them) a number of times, but sleeping with one, that was a first. Can’t say he (she?) was much for cuddling. Whew! Interesting tidbit – We’ve found quite a few scorpions in this house, but until the bed incident, we never bought traps. Did you know that scorpion traps have a roly poly scent to attract them?
Thank you all for listening to my story of the week. Now let’s transition on over to talk about roasted peppers, which have to be the finest addition to any meal you make. Peppers, as we know, are some of the more versatile fruits, and in one form or another, they are used in almost all cuisines. Here in the Southwest, we favor spicy chili peppers, like serranos, habañeros, and jalapeños. Traditional American homecooking includes black pepper in almost every savory dish. And what’s good mole without anchos? Or a cheesesteak joint without pickled cherry peppers? Southeast Asian food without those small round chilis? I could go on, but I think it’s time to acknowledge the Western world’s most common variety, the bell. Raw, bell peppers can be slivered over salads or eaten out of your lunchbox with a little ranch. Cooked with a little olive oil, they can be added to just about anything. Basically, bell peppers are healthy, tasty, beautiful, and practically perfect always. If possible, though, when they’re roasted, they jump to an entirely new level.
I know there’s a bit of controversy surrounding just how to roast the pepper. Some people swear by the grill method, which can be modified to become the gas stove method. Others knows and use the canned peppers. (And why not? Gimme and fork, and I can eat those up before you can say . . . roasted red bell pepper). But in my opinion, the best roasted bells are done in the oven, slowly and luxuriously. Roasted peppers change both the texture and the taste of the fruit. They become soft, and they’re sweet, maybe even smoky. They can be eaten in different ways, pureed into hummus (does anyone else picture Trader Joe’s when they think about this dip?), smooshed in soups, and layered in a sandwich. They take just over an hour to make, but, seeing that you do next to nothing to actually prepare the peppers, all you have to do is budget the first 30 minutes for checking your email and the other half for making the rest of dinner. As soon as you know it, you’re done, and the smell of roasted peppers will be transforming your house into a Tuscan villa.
Suggestions for eating and a few recipe links follow the instructions.
-Bell peppers (use yellow, red, or orange)
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Place the peppers on a baking sheet or glass dish, a 1/2 inch or so apart, and put them in the heated oven. If you don’t want to have to clean your baking dish, line it with foil first.
Using the stem as a handle, rotate the peppers every fifteen minutes during the roasting period that each of the four sides has time to blister. Remove the peppers from the oven once they are soft and partially collapsed, and the skin is blistered black and brown. Usually at this point I let the peppers cool for about five minutes, and then I lightly charbroil my fingers by removing the flaming hot skin. If you don’t want to deaden your nerves by repeated burning, allow the peppers to cool for a bit longer, around 10 minutes. Then, very, very cautiously, begin to peel the skin off your peppers with your fingers. Dump out the liquid and seeds inside the peppers as you go. Careful though! The liquid will be steaming! Give the peppers more time to cool if need be.
The peppers can easily be made ahead. They will keep for about a week when stored in an airtight container in the fridge. They will also keep frozen. If you want to reheat the peppers, reheat them uncovered in the microwave or oven.
Dinner time? Here’s how I often eat mine:
Once the peeled peppers have returned to room temperature, cut them into strips about 1/3-in. wide. Toss with a drizzle of oil olive, minced garlic cloves, sea salt, and freshly ground black pepper. You can serve this with crusty bread, olive, capers, or sardine dip.
Or, roughly chop the strips into slightly smaller chunks, and add to a salad of fresh spinach, feta, and chick peas.
Bonus! If you want a Southwestern riff on roasted peppers, try this:
Instead of bells, buy those darling dark green poblanos, roast them, peel them, slice them lenthwise. Then fill each half with jack cheese, fresh corn, lightly browned diced onion, maybe some black beans; pop them back in the oven long enough to melt the cheese; and you’ve got yourself a cheater’s version of the chile relleno. (A real version of which I had today, more on that up next!)