Raw — as crunchy crudites – or cooked until sweet and tender, vibrant peppers are some of summer and fall’s most colorful and versatile gems. Read on to learn how to choose, prep and use them in the kitchen, and find new recipe ideas from the Williams-Sonoma Test Kitchen.
Look for: Buy firm, smooth, brightly colored peppers. Bell peppers may be green, red, yellow, orange, brown or purple. Green peppers are usually sharper flavored, more plentiful and less expensive than peppers of other colors. They are immature and do not ripen once picked. Red bell peppers are simply a more mature (and sweeter) stage of green bell peppers. The other colors are separate varieties of peppers.
Refrigerate the peppers as soon as you get them home, storing them loosely in a perforated plastic bag. Green peppers keep for at least 1 week; use red, yellow orange and purple peppers within 5 or 6 days.
Prep tips: Cut the pepper in half at the equator or lengthwise. Using your hands or a knife, remove the stem. Then trim away the seeds and white membranes; remaining seeds can be rinsed away. Cut the pepper to the desired size and shape. Here’s your toolkit:
- Chef’s Knife, to slice and prep peppers easily
- Pepper Corer, to remove the core and seeds quickly
- Mandoline, for creating thin slices and an even dice
- Glass Mixing Bowls, for clean, organized prep work
- Nonstick Fry Pan, to saute peppers without sticking
- Tongs, for handling peppers when broiling or grilling
Uses: Peppers can be sliced and enjoyed raw in salads, diced and sauteed until silken in texture and even sweeter in flavor, roasted or grilling for antipasti platters and sandwiches, or baked whole and filled with savory stuffings.
Sausage & Peppers: Saute red onion slices and green and yellow bell pepper strips until softened and slightly browned. Meanwhile, grill sausages until well marked and cooked through. Slice sausages in half lengthwise. Place sausage halves on split rolls and top with onion and peppers. Serve with whole grain mustard.
Romesco: In a food processor, pulse roasted red bell peppers with minced garlic, toasted almonds, sherry vinegar, seeded tomatoes, smoked paprika and salt until combined. With the motor running, drizzle in olive oil until the mixture forms a chunky puree. Serve alongside grilled steak and green onions.
Tricolor Pepper Salad: Toss strips of red, yellow and orange bell peppers with sherry vinegar, extra-virgin olive oil, and salt and pepper to taste. Mound the peppers on salad plates and sprinkle with chopped fresh basil, sliced Kalamata olives and crumbled feta. Serve as a starter or an accompaniment to grilled meat or fish.
Preserved Peppers: Toss red bell peppers with olive oil, salt and pepper. Broil or grill, turning occasionally, until charred all over. Let cool, then peel off charred skin. Cut each pepper into 4 pieces and remove seeds. Transfer to a glass jar and fill jar with chopped herbs, red pepper flakes and olive oil to cover. Use within 1 week.
Stuffed Peppers: Halve green bell peppers lengthwise and remove seeds. Toss with olive oil and salt and arrange cut side up in a baking dish. Combine cooked rice and black beans with sauteed onion and garlic, ground cumin, chili powder, chopped cilantro, sliced green onions and salt. Mound mixture in pepper halves. Cover and bake at 350°F until tender, about 1 hour. Remove foil, top with cheese and bake 15 minutes more.
Roasted Pepper Crostini: Toss orange bell peppers with olive oil, salt and pepper. Broil or grill, turning occasionally, until charred all over. Let cool, then peel off charred skin. Remove seeds and cut into strips. Spread goat cheese on crostini and top with pepper strips. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with flake salt.