While peeking around the stalls at the Farmer’s Market the other day I stopped by the “plant guy”, you know the one that sells small plant, all edible stuff that you can bring home and grow in your own backyard. I have a small patch of soil still available in my yard and decided that peppers will fill the small vacant lot. I went for Jalapeno and bell peppers.
As a child, growing up in Tuscany, I didn’t eat peppers even if I truly enjoyed their taste. I stayed away from peppers for two distinct reasons: at the time I didn’t eat spicy and also couldn’t digest them well. But after I started getting my hands dirty in Italian kitchens I learned how to circumvent the latter quickly. How? Eating only what’s “in between”: getting rid of the skin and the seeds with the white on the inside of the fruit (yes, it’s a fruit) will make it very tolerant to digest. Cleaning the inside is easy, peeling the skin is not and while a sharp peeler will do the trick it will also waste a lot of the thin “meat” of the fruit.
My favorite preparation method is grilling: it makes the peppers easy to clean and it adds that “fire” flavor that totally complement the sweet pepper taste. I just rub them with a little olive oil and put them on the grill turning them occasionally, until they’re starting to get cracked black crispness on the skin. When ready I put them in a container wrapped with film wrap, to trap the moisture, and a kitchen towel over to keep them “sweating the skin off”. Once cold I cut the “limp” pepper open, get rid of the seeds and peel the skin by squeezing it away. Some people rinse the peppers in cold running water to easily clean the seeds and skin off, please don’t do that sacrilegious ritual as it will wash away all the flavor. Lastly, I like to marinate them with olive oil, a dot of minced garlic and herbs, mint and thyme, my favorite.
Peppers can be used in pasta sauces, antipasti, sprinkled over pizza. They truly enhance many salads with their slightly acid sweetness. While they have great synergy with other ingredients be careful with their use as they tend to overwhelm other flavors.