Craving peppers?

Sep 09, 2015

My family and I enjoy eating many of the products that are available during spring, summer and fall during the winter months. One of the best ways for us to enjoy these produces is by preserving. We take preserving very seriously, from pickles to syrups we really take the time to preserve many of the delicious fruits and vegetables that Ontario’s Greenbelt has to offer. Who wouldn’t enjoy eating a preserved peach during the middle of winter? I know that I do.

Last week was the first week I managed to find Sheppard Peppers at the farm near my house. I was very happy to discover them since I enjoy eating the delicious roasted pulp that is produced once the pepper is grilled. You can roast the peppers on a grill and incorporate them in any number of dishes! You can also roast any pepper you can find at your local farmers’ market or on-farm market, but my personal preference is the Sheppard Pepper. For a list of the farms that sell the closest peppers to you, click here.

Recipes can be made with in-season local peppers that are frozen during the summer season, and fire-roasted peppers are an ideal way to preserve if you want to use them during the winter and spring. With peppers stored in sealed freezer bags, the peppers can be defrosted overnight to make sauces, side dishes, and so much more!

Fire Roasted Peppers

Makes three servings, Ready in one hour

6 Sheppard Peppers, any pepper will do

Electric Grill

Turn the heat on high until the inside of the grill reaches a temperature of 200C. Once the grill reaches 200C, reduce heat to medium low. Take one pepper and place the pepper to rest on the grill grates.

Every 5 minutes, rotate the peppers until you can see the pepper flesh separating from the skin. The peppers take about 15 to 20 minutes to roast, however, depending on the size and shape of the pepper this could increase or decrease. If you purchase smaller peppers you may need to flip them only once, but a large bell pepper may need to be flipped on five sides (including the bottom)! It’s very important that you don’t overcook the peppers, since this can lead to the skin and flesh of the pepper to burn - and you won’t be able to enjoy the delicious sweet flavour of the pepper. If you undercook the pepper, you won’t be able to remove the skin.

Once you have removed the peppers from the grill, place them in a sealed container. I usually use a bowl and I place a dish on top as a lid. The contained traps all of the heat that the pepper releases and continues to slightly cook the pepper. It will be much easier to remove skin from the pepper once the pepper has been in the container. I tend to let the peppers cool down until you can comfortably handle them before I begin to remove the skin. If the peppers are too hot, you could fill a small bowl with water to cool down your fingers while you remove the skin.

As you remove the skin from each pepper, you will notice that if the pepper has been cooked correctly the skin should remove very easily. At this stage you can either place the peeled pepper in a sealed freezer bag or you can create the sauce of your choice or simply add a bit of vinegar, oil and salt and you have a side dish!

My mother and I enjoy blending the roasted peppers with pesto ingredients! The peppers add a new sweet element to the traditional pesto.

Want to know where you can buy peppers at an on-farm market or farmers’ market near you? Click here to find out.

– Andreea Nicoara

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