I will admit, I am absolutely terrible when it comes to growing bell peppers. I’m not sure why. I know tons of friends who have an abundance of delicious peppers in all colors, shapes, and sizes, but for some reason, every year I’ve tried to grow them, I got maybe one sad little pepper. That’s it. So, needless to say, I gave up on growing peppers a long time ago. But, if you’re not like me, and you have success with peppers, or if you just find a good deal at the grocery store, one of the best ways to use them up is to roast them. And, bonus, they are delicious and easy!
I learned my roasting technique from Lidia Bastianich and her “Lidia’s Italian-American Kitchen” cookbook. She gives two ways to roast peppers. One, turning them over a gas burner until they’re charred, seems like torture to me. But the other version, roasting at a high temperature in the oven, is as easy as it gets.
Before I start, I always cover my sheet pan in aluminum foil. It just makes the clean up that much easier. Then, as Lidia suggests, I turn the temperature to 475 degree. Make sure your rack is at the highest spot that you can put it but still get the sheet pan with the peppers on it in the oven. Then, just spread the peppers out on the pan. I usually use 4 large red peppers, which makes a nice batch and doesn’t crowd the sheet pan. I’m not sure why I always use red, but it just seems like you should. And all you need to do to the peppers is wash and dry them thoroughly…nothing else…and put them in the hot oven.
I check the peppers after about 5-7 minutes. You want the skin to start to char and blister. The first side can sometimes take a little while, but keep checking. Once it’s charred and blistered, turn the peppers a quarter turn. Keep them in for about another 3-4 minutes until that side chars. Then, just keep checking and rotating until all sides are charred, and the peppers have softened. It will only take 15-20 minutes. And don’t worry if you don’t get every side, as long as they have some color and are softened, they will have that great flavor. But don’t be afraid of the charred, burnt look. It really does add a tremendous amount of flavor.
As soon as you take the peppers out of the oven, transfer them to a bowl that you can cover tightly with plastic wrap. Drop them all in and cover. This will steam the peppers as they cool and make the skins very easy to remove. Lidia says to leave them for about 40 minutes, but I usually just go and do something else and forget about them for a while. Once you can handle them, pull out the stem and seeds, and peel the skin away. It should come off very easily with your hands. It’s a dirty job, but somebody’s got to do it!
Once I have my peppers roasted and cleaned, I like to slice them into strips and add some flavoring. I add 3 garlic cloves, crushed, along with about 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper, and a few tablespoons olive oil. Give that a stir and let it rest for the flavors to come together. I usually like to make them the night before I’m serving them, but you don’t need to. You can store them in the refrigerator. I like to take them out early before serving so they come to room temperature.
Roasted peppers, some crusty bread, maybe some wine…sounds like a great dinner for a warm late summer night!