Bell peppers are on their way out!
Of season that is. Definitely not out of style.
Depending on where you are, wrinkly bell peppers might be on sale; At the farmers market, in your CSA box, or maybe you’re lucky enough to have a garden and a few left hanging on the stalk. I just picked up 4 organic peppers at the farmer’s market for $2. A very good deal for organic peppers.
Otherwise, year round your local veggie store might have bags of slightly older peppers on sale. One veggie store I know sells bags of about 6-7 very useable, but older, peppers for $2!
But what to do with those wrinkly old peppers?
How you use your peppers does depend on how many you have.
If you only have a couple to play with, you may want to stick to the several options of roasting them. You really need more than a couple to make the other options worthwhile.
1. Roast them and freeze them. This is my fall-back, and is extremely versatile. Roasted peppers frozen in containers or bags can be chopped up and tossed in pasta sauces, soups, sandwiches, and other things for flavouring.
To roast peppers:
Wash your peppers, remove the seeds, cut out any black spot, cut in half and arrange on a cookie sheet covered with aluminum foil. Turn your oven on to broil, and bake the peppers skin side up until the skins begin to blacken. Remove and cover with a tea towel to “steam” the peppers, this will loosen the skins.
Once cool, slide off the skins, slice the peppers into strips, and pack into freezer containers or bags.
2. Roast them and pack them in oil. Infusing peppers with the flavours of garlic and rosemary gives them a lovely flavour and they can be used for a variety of things, like sandwiches, pastas and antipasto.
Roast your peppers according to the instructions above, then pack in glass jars with a sprig of fresh rosemary and a garlic clove. Fill to cover the peppers with olive oil. This will keep in the fridge for months.
3. Roast them and turn them into hummous or dip. Following your favorite chickpea hummous recipe, and blend in a few slices of roasted peppers for flavour and colour. Alternatively, puree a few slices with sour cream, yogurt, salt, paprika and dill for a veggie and chip dip.
4. Roast them and make soup. Roasted bell pepper soup is a fantastic fall dish. Blend stock with slices of peppers, carrots, celery, and spices for a thick and filling soup.
5. Roast them and eat them! Can you tell I like roasted peppers? I like them roasted as a side dish with a bit of flavouring. Cut the peppers in half, then arrange on a baking sheet covered with aluminum foil skin side down, to create a little bowl.
Mix together 2 Tbsp olive oil, a diced tomato, 1Tbsp rosemary, 1/2 tsp salt and 2 tsp finely chopped garlic. Spoon into the bell pepper bowls and bake in a 350F oven for about 30 minutes, until the peppers are soft.
6. Dehydrate them. Dehydrated peppers can be crumbled into bits, then stored and used later to sprinkle over soups, pastas and other dishes for an extra kick of flavour. Wash and slice the peppers in quarters, removing seeds and black spots. Dehydrate according to your dehydrator's directions, or in the oven.
7. Can them. With salt water in a pressure canner, following all standards of safety and hygiene with a tested recipe. If you don't have a pressure canner, you can pickle them. Just be sure to cut a wide swath around the black or moldy spots so you don't contaminate your jar with mold.
8. Pickle them. Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers! Now that that's out of my system, I suggest pickling your peppers in vinegar in a hot water canner, following all standards of safety and hygiene with a tested recipe. As mentioned above, be sure to cut a good chunk around your moldy or black spots so you don't contaminate your jar with mold.
What do you like to do with YOUR peppers?
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