Roasted red peppers, mmmm…. droooool. Who can resist them? Packed in jars of olive oil (insert screeching to a halt noise). Well that doesn’t sound so good for you. Yes, it tastes good, and yes, it is better than lard, but if you are trying to watch fat intake, you probably don’t want “hidden fat” surrounding your veggies. And here’s a big secret… you don’t need it! Stick around and I’ll tell you how to make your own roasted red peppers in about an hour with no special equipment.
My first job out of college was as a supported work counselor. I had to visit people on their job sites and help them basically remain employed. I had one client who worked in a deli, and one day I arrived to visit and found him roasting red peppers down in a basement over an open gas flame. The pepper was held on a barbecue fork. This was in a basement with really low ceilings in an old building. Needless to say, it left a lasting impression of roasting red peppers being a scary and dangerous business. All you would need is a pile of oily rags to complete the tableau.
Fast forward to now. I turned to an old friend (google) and looked up recipes for roasting red peppers. To my surprise, you don’t need a gas range to do this. Ina Garten has a recipe on the Food Network’s site. It worked great–though she advocates packing them in–shock!–olive oil, so I am claiming this recipe as my own. Who needs to pack them? Just eat them. Easy. I also changed up how I let them finish out of the oven. So don’t turn me in to the recipe police, please.
Roasted Red Peppers inspired by the Barefoot Contessa
Ingredients: Desired number of red peppers (yes, that’s it. Go crazy and use yellow and orange peppers too)
Heat oven to 500. That is steaming hot, so if your oven is less-than-clean you might reconsider. Or have a fire extinguisher nearby. Place your peppers on a baking sheet. Cook for about 20 minutes, turn them, and cook about another 20 minutes. Keep an eye on them and if they are burning, cut the time in the oven short. 40 minutes worked fine for me. Remove the peppers from the oven. They will have charred bits all over them. Put them in a bowl. Cover bowl tightly with plastic wrap. Let sit 30 minutes. You will see water condensing on the plastic wrap. Leave it alone, your peppers are steaming and the skins are loosening. Here’s what my lovelies looked like:
Let them sit covered for 30 minutes then peel off the plastic wrap and place them on a cutting board. They should be cool enough to handle. The skin should peel right off in your fingers. Try not to think of Silence of the Lambs while you de-skin your peppers (it puts the lotion in the basket, that’s for you Judy if you’re reading this). Then pull out the stem and you should be able to squeeze most of the seeds and membranes out by squeezing toothpaste tube style from the bottom of the pepper to the stem end. Seriously, the Barefoot Contessa can cook, but does she have such poetic command of the English language as I? Then cut your peppers open and you can scrape out any remaining seeds and membrane. Voilà, roasted red peppers.
Now, what to do with them? I’ve got not one but two beautiful recipes to share. Stay tuned…