Roasting red peppers is a great way to concentrate flavors and bring out their natural sweetness. They make a wonderful addition to salads, sandwiches and even pasta dishes. I’m personally a huge fan of spreading a bit of goat cheese on slices of crusty bread and top with a small cluster of slivered peppers and fresh basil.
As I sit at a coffee shop thinking about the endless creative possibilities for peppers, here are a few tips for roasting them yourself.
Step #1: Select Your Preferred Roasting Method
Oven Broiler:I tend to use this method the most. Set your broiler to “high” and position the rack 6-8 inches from the flame. Allow the broiler to preheat for 2 minutes. Line a sheet pan with foil to protect the peppers from sticking. It also makes for easier clean-up later. Cut the peppers in half and place cut-side down on the pan. Brush the tops with olive oil. Broil the peppers for approximately 5 minutes or until skins are blackened.
Outdoor Grill: This method is a great way to maximize your grill space while cooking other items. The first option is to place the peppers directly on the grate and turn every 2 minutes until the skins are blackened. An alternative method is to cut the peppers in half and wrap them in a foil packet. Place the pack away from the direct flame and allow the peppers to steam in their juices for 4-6 minutes. Save the excess liquid found in the packet to add a boost of flavor to soups or pasta sauces.
Stove-top: This is the more traditional method for roasting peppers. However, I believe it’s not quite the most energy efficient. Simply light a single burner on your gas stove to a high flame and place the pepper directly on the metal grate. Turn the pepper with fire-safe tongs every 1-2 minutes until each side is blackened.
Step #2: Let the Peppers Steam
Once the peppers are adequately roasted based on the method selected above, toss the peppers in a heat safe bowl and cover. Allow the peppers to steam for 3-4 minutes. This process will encourage the skins pull away from the flesh for easy removal. An alternative to using a bowl would be to use a large zip-lock freezer bag.
Step #3: Remove Core & Peel
With a sharp and small paring knife, remove the center core and seeds of the pepper. Then carefully remove the skin from the flesh. You might need to use the tip of the knife to help separate peel away the skin. Whatever you do….do NOT rinse the peppers under water. You will wash away the natural oils that contain a ton of flavor. Don’t worry if some of the flesh has been blackened. This will only add to the flavor.