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Peppers, bell, green
Why Eat It
Availability
Shopping
Storage
Preparation
Nutrition Chart


Why Eat It

These bell-shaped vegetables are sweet bell peppers in their mature green stage--fully developed, but not ripe. As they ripen on the vine, most bell peppers turn red and become sweeter. Green bell peppers are excellent sources of many essential nutrients, especially vitamin C.

Availability

Sweet bell peppers are on the market all year in good supply, but they are somewhat more plentiful in the summer months. California and Florida grow most of the domestic crop; bells are also imported from Mexico, the Dominican Republic, The Netherlands and Belgium.

Shopping

Green peppers should be well shaped, firm, and glossy. Their skins should be taut and unwrinkled, and their stems fresh and green. Bell peppers are best when they are thick walled and juicy, so they should feel heavy for their size. Watch out for soft or sunken areas, slashes or black spots. If a green bell pepper shows streaks of red, it will be slightly sweeter than a totally green one; however, once picked, it will not get any redder--or sweeter, either.

Storage

Store unwashed sweet peppers in a plastic bag in the refrigerator for up to a week; green peppers will keep somewhat longer than red or other ripe peppers. Check them frequently; immediately use any peppers that have developed soft spots.

Preparation

Wash peppers just before using them. Some bell peppers are waxed and they should be scrubbed well before eating. To cut the peppers into strips or pieces, cut the pepper lengthwise into flat panels. Discard the stems, spongy cores, and seeds (which can have a bitter taste). If you are using the pepper whole, cut the stem end off and then discard the core and seeds. Or, for pepper halves, cut the pepper in half lengthwise, not crosswise.

Pepper skin can be unpleasantly tough in cooked dishes. The easiest way to remove the skin is by blanching or roasting the peppers, as explained below. For most recipes, the various colors of bell peppers are interchangeable yet remember that reds and yellows are sweeter than green peppers.

Baking: Cut bell peppers into large chunks and place them in a baking dish (alone or with other vegetables). Bake in a 350°F oven until tender. For baking with a stuffing, choose solid, thick-walled peppers so that they will hold their shape. Cut off a "lid" (about 1/2" deep) and a thin slice from the bottom of each pepper so that each one will stand without tipping; or, halve each pepper lengthwise to form two "cups." Stuff the peppers and place them in a baking pan in which they will fit snugly. Bake in a 375°F oven until the filling is heated through and the peppers tender. Cooking time: 20 to 25 minutes.

Blanching: Blanched sweet peppers can be used without further cooking as containers for cold salads. Cut off the caps and core the peppers, then blanch them in boiling water. Cooking time: five minutes.

Microwaving: For whole stuffed peppers, first microwave the cored pepper shells for two minutes to soften them. The precooking ensures that the shells will be done at the same time as the filling. Then fill the peppers and cook until the filling is heated through. Cooking time: seven to eight minutes.

Broiling/Grilling: Sweet bell peppers take on a wonderful smoky flavor when charred over a flame; also this procedure allows you to peel the peppers. Broil or grill pepper pieces (or you can fire-roast whole peppers over an open flame; see below). To prepare peppers for broiling, slice the pepper lengthwise into four or five flattish panels. Discard stem, ribs, and seeds. Lay the pieces on the grill skin-side down, or on a broiler pan skin-side up, and cook about 4" from the heat until the skin is blackened. Place the charred peppers in a bowl, cover with a pot lid or a plate, and let them "sweat" for about 15 minutes; this will loosen the skin. Then scrape off the skin with a table knife (doing this under running water is helpful). Cooking time: six to 10 minutes.

Fire-Roasting: To fire-roast whole peppers, cut a small slit near the stem of each one. Impale each pepper on a long-handled cooking fork and hold over the flame. Place the charred peppers in a bowl, cover with a pot lid or a plate, and let steam for about 15 minutes; this will loosen the skin. Then scrape off the skin with a table knife (doing this under running water is helpful). Cut around the stem, pull out the stem and core, and scrape out any remaining seeds. Cooking time: six to 10 minutes.

Sauteing: Strips or squares of bell pepper (a mix of colors makes an attractive side dish) can be sauteed in oil or broth. They are good alone or in combination with other vegetables. Cooking time: 10 to 15 minutes.

Stir-frying: Add 1" squares or strips of red bell pepper to Chinese meat or poultry stir-fries, or cook the peppers with broccoli, water chestnuts, green beans, or other vegetables. Cooking time: four to six minutes.

Nutrition Chart

Green Bell Pepper/1 cup chopped raw

40
Total fat (g)
0.3
Saturated fat (g)
0
Monounsaturated fat (g)
0
Polyunsaturated fat (g)
0.2
Dietary fiber (g)
2.7
1
Carbohydrate (g)
10
Cholesterol (mg)
0
Sodium (mg)
3
Vitamin B6 (mg)
0.4
Vitamin C (mg)
133


Date Published: 04/20/2005
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