Before I went to culinary school, I had never roasted a pepper in my life. The first time one of my recipes called for roasted peppers, I decided to give it my best shot and went and placed my peppers over the big classroom grill. A more experienced classmate quickly pulled me aside, showing me the proper way to roast peppers – over a flame on the stovetop! I had never seen it done before, and was pretty intimidated the first time.
Now a confident culinary graduate, I realize there are many many more people out there just like the “old” me – eager to learn, but embarrassed to admit they don’t know some basic techniques. First off, you should never be embarrassed to ask anything on this blog, because I started out as the most clueless cook imaginable! We all start somewhere, right? So let’s get on with it. Now you can never say that no one taught you how to properly roast your peppers, and you can stop buying that oily jarred stuff.
How To Roast A Pepper
The ONLY thing you need for roasted peppers are: PEPPERS! Okay that’s not entirely true. You also need tongs, a bowl, and plastic wrap, but hopefully you already have those things.
I should add that this is typically done with sweet peppers, like bell – not spicy peppers. Heating spicy peppers intensifies the spiciness of them, so roasting them would likely make your mouth catch on fire!
The first step is getting your burners going. Turn them on and crank them up to medium high heat! Depending on how many peppers you are roasting, you can use one or two burners. I’d say you can figure on roasting 2 peppers per burner.
(If you don’t have a gas stove, this can also be done in the broiler. Put the peppers on a sheet tray and place under the broiler, rotating every few minutes as the tops blacken! Follow the rest of the instructions once your peppers are black all over.)
The key thing to remember when roasting is that you are working with a HOT open flame. Safety is a MUST! Use a long pair of tongs to place your peppers on the burner, balancing them on the metal prongs over the flame. Don’t worry, you want the flame to be hitting the peppers! My peppers were small, so I roasted 3 on one burner…
(I did multiple rounds of peppers, so don’t be alarmed that the quantity and color of peppers is changing!) When you start to see the bottoms of the peppers blacken and bubble…
Carefully use your tongs to turn them and rotate them around the flame – you want the entire pepper to be blackened by the end!
It’s kind of like a vegetable version of roasting marshmallows! You may get a few sparks and see some embers on the pepper, but I assure you the pepper will NOT catch fire unless you leave it on there for an extremely long amount of time. Don’t fear the flame.
Like I said, our goal is to have 90% blackened peppers as our final product. The more black they get, the easier they will be in the next step – I promise.
Once your peppers are good and blackened, transfer them to a bowl…
And quickly cover with plastic wrap. Make sure it is tightly sealed!
Let the peppers sit off to the side for at least 15 minutes covered. While you wait, you can prep the rest of your meal. After time has passed, come back to the bowl and uncover – the peppers should be somewhat wilted and soft now.
Transfer the peppers to a cutting board. If the peppers are still hot, or if you don’t like
getting dirty, you many want to consider using gloves for this next step. Take a pepper in your hand and, using your fingers, peel off all of the blackened skin.
You should end up with a big pile of ashy pepper peel…
And an almost clean pepper. It is very hard to get 100% of the char off the peppers, and that’s okay. It adds to the flavor of the final dish! Despite your temptation, do NOT rinse the peeled peppers under water to get the rest of the char off – it will strip the peppers of the essential oils you worked so hard to extract!
Peel all of your peppers this way, until there is very little black left.
Then carefully use a knife to cut the peppers into strips or cubes, depending on what you are making.
Voila – you have successfully roasted your own delicious peppers!
What Do I DO With My Roasted Peppers?
Roasted peppers can literally be used in a MILLION different applications. They are great mixed in with grains or beans, used cold as a salad topper, tossed in with some chickpeas to make flavored hummus – the possibilities are endless!
Here is how I used my peppers, just to give you an idea. I tossed them with tomato wedges, fresh slivered basil, sauteed mustard greens, and a bit of goat cheese. Tossed the whole thing in a vinaigrette of sherry vinegar, balsamic vinegar, and grapeseed oil!
The smokiness of roasted peppers give any dish a wonderful rustic feel, and they add such a deliciously distinct flavor.
Now you can feel confident that you can roast your own peppers too, and you have this wonderful ingredient to add to your dishes and recipes.