WHAT ARE ROASTED PEPPERS?
So roasted peppers are not their own, a separate vegetable. However as ingredients go they’re awesome enough to deserve their own entry! For color contrast you can use red, green, yellow or orange bell pepper. For all three the roasting process brings out their natural flavor while adding a nice, smokey char. Bottled in olive oil, they’ll infuse the surrounding fat with their delicious flavor. This allows you to have two ingredients with which to play.
WHY ARE ROASTED PEPPERS GOOD FOR YOU?
Peppers in general and red ones in particular are exceptionally healthy for you! Compared to green peppers, their scarlet cousins have 11 times more beta carotene and 1.5 times more vitamin C. And of the different styles of cooking roasting is one of the best and healthiest ways to prevent the loss of valuable anti-oxidants from your red peppers (vs. boiling, steaming, frying)!
WHEN ARE ROASTED PEPPERS IN SEASON?
Commercially available options are available year-round. However see below on storing them, home-made versions stored long-term should either be frozen or pickled to be safe. Otherwise scientists recommend refrigerating your infusion and using it within 4 days.
HOW SHOULD ROASTED PEPPERS BE STORED?
When storing any low acid food (most vegetables) in oil, there is always a risk of botulism! The oil is basically an oxygen free environment. Commercially infused oils use labs and add acids as well as artificial ingredients to stem bacterial growth. However for the residential chef, these are not viable options. Many home recipes recommend refrigerating jars of vegetables soaking in oil. However this only slows down bacterial growth, it doesn’t stop it. Roasting your peppers (normally a temperature of 158°F / 70°C) however helps to at least partially sterilize them. Roasting a.k.a. normal cooking will kill the botulism bacteria but not the spores. In order to do that, you need to heat the peppers to at least 250°F (121°C) for 3 minutes.
WANT AN AWESOME SECRET INGREDIENT?
The New York Times food critic Mark Bittman has some excellent tips on both cooking and using roasted red peppers. From pasta sauce to salad dressing to a flavorful dipping sauce there are a lot of new and different opportunities to give old recipes new flavor twists.