Roasting Peppers is as easy as 1, 2, 3…

img_3055Are you still buying roasted red peppers in a jar? Possibly you’ve noticed that the flavor of jarred peppers is somewhat different than freshly roasted peppers. That’s because they’re packed in a brine designed to extend their shelf-life. That brine usually consists of a blend of ingredients, such as salt, sugar and citric acid, which permanently alter the peppers’ inherently sweet flavor. And with 110 mg of sodium per 1.5 tablespoons, you might as well enjoy a spoonful of sea water.

Roasting peppers at home is SO easy, and so much healthier and more flavorful, so why are you still buying jarred? You won’t believe the difference in flavor! Mike and I roast peppers weekly and use them in salads, as a side dish and as an essential ingredient in couscous, tabouleh, lettuce wraps, stuffed peppers and much, much more. They never go to waste in our house!

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Here’s the tried-and-true method for roasting peppers in 3 simple steps:

  1. Place the whole peppers (red, orange, yellow or a mixture) on a foil-lined baking sheet sprayed with a misting of cooking spray. Roast in the top third of a preheated 375-degree oven for 20-25 minutes, until they begin to blacken on one side; turn peppers over and continue another 5 minutes or so until they are charred all over.
  2. Once they are fairly evenly charred, remove  from the oven and wrap the foil around them. Allow to cool completely. (Steaming in the foil while cooling will help lift the skin and make it easier to peel.)
  3. Once cooled, unwrap the foil. The skin should now pull away easily from the flesh. Discard the stems and scrape the seeds out with your hands or a spoon. Place the seeded peppers in a container with a tight-fitting lid. Add a pinch or two of kosher salt and a drizzle of olive oil. For added flavor, add a bit of minced garlic and slivered fresh basil or cilantro. Pop the lid on, shake gently, and let marinate for an hour. Peppers will store for up to 5-7 days in the refrigerator.

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Note: The term ‘charred’ is relative – what is charred to one person may not be the same for the next person. Let me clarify because I’ve been known to ruin a pepper by letting it cook too much. When I say ‘charred’, I don’t mean burnt to a crisp or scorched. I mean blistered and nicely blackened but by no means reduced to cinders. Most of the flesh should be discolored, but there will be areas of red still showing.

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