There is something remarkable about the transformation a food undergoes when cooked. Flour, water and yeast baked in an oven becomes bread. Nothing compares to the egg’s ability to transform itself while cooked (that’s why it forms the basis of everything baked from meringues to custards to cakes). Vegetables undergo a more mild transformation: a cooked onion still looks like an onion, for instance. But its taste is milder, sweeter; it’s more pleasing to eat.
There may be something to that: the nutrients in the vegetable, all those wonderful things that cure cancer and such, so much so that everybody including your Mom tells you you gotta eat’em – those nutrients are more bio-available when the vegetable is cooked, which means your body can digest more of the nutrients easily, making the vegetable “healthier.”1. I’ve got more to say about how taste relates to health. Right now I want to talk about a truly sublime transformation: the roasted pepper.
There’s an inherent sweetness in peppers that’s nearly completely hidden when eaten raw. But roast those suckers over an open flame and you get something almost overpowering in its sweetness. Like most things you can buy, they taste better when you make them yourself. If you’re lucky enough to have a gas stove, you can roast peppers all year long. I don’t, sadly, so they’re strictly a summertime treat. A roasted pepper is a remarkably simple thing to prepare: cook the shit out of them on high heat, wrap ‘em up and wait a bit. Done.
They are messy when you peel the peppers, but cleaning up a little mess is totally worth that flavour.
Prep your grill for high heat.
Once your grill is hot, place the peppers on the grill. Turn every 5 minutes or so until the whole pepper is black and charred and looks positively ruined.
Place the peppers in a large bowl and cover with plastic wrap. The plastic will trap the moisture from the peppers, softening them. Let them rest about 15 minutes.
Remove the skin; you should be able to just peel it off. It’s messy, sticky business, taking the skins off: there is a lot of moisture in those peppers as well. Pull out the stem and the seed thing. Lay the pepper flat on a cutting board and scrape away the remaining seeds. Repeat for each pepper.
Now you’re ready to use them. You can chop them up in a salad; put them in a fajita filling, sandwiches, blitz them up to make a coulis.
The possibilities are endless.
- Which is why those raw food people are totally out of ‘er [↩]