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Smoky & Sublime: Bell
Peppers Come Alive
with Roasting

By Russ Parsons

Roasted peppers are one of food's sure things. They're beautiful to look at, a deep Titian red. They have a voluptuous texture, closer to a nice, fatty piece of tuna sashimi than a vegetable. And their flavor is a profound mix of sweet and earthy, pungent and perfectly balanced by itself.

The simplest dish in the world, and one of the most satisfying, is a plate of roasted, peeled peppers dressed only with a little good olive oil and a sprinkling of salt. The pepper repertoire doesn't stop there, of course, but anything else you do is a matter of adornment rather than improvement.

One of the most common pairings for peppers is with tomatoes, one of nature's other perfect foods. All over the Mediterranean basin, these two show up in dishes both simple (roasted pepper and tomato salad) and complex (peperonata, found under different names from Spain to Morocco).

Roasted peppers are utterly unlike raw ones. In the first place, roasting removes that thin skin of cellulose. That's the tough part that's so difficult to digest. And it gently cooks the meat, softening it and bringing out hidden dimensions of flavor.

There are any number of ways to roast a pepper. Perhaps the most primal is simply throwing them on the grill. This has the advantage of accommodating a large number of peppers at the same time. A regular 21-inch kettle grill will easily hold more than a dozen large peppers at once. Just keep turning them to hit every bit of skin (including the bottoms and the tops), and move them from place to place so every pepper gets its turn over the hottest parts of the fire. More ... Cooking Articles


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