Food of the month: Ravenous for red bell pepper

Wednesday, 4 September 2013

Food of the month: the red bell pepperWhat it is:
Red bell peppers originate from the species Capsicum annuum and while they are known as vegetables in the culinary world, bell peppers are actually botanically fruits.

Where it’s from:
Christopher Columbus first introduced red bell peppers to Europe in 1493. Columbus also named these botanically fruits peppers, because at the time, the word ‘pepper’ was given to any spice with a hot or pungent taste. Red bell peppers are native to Mexico, Central America and northern South America.

Where it’s produced:
The biggest producer of bell peppers today is China, followed by Mexico, Indonesia, Turkey and Spain. Sold as fresh produce, bell peppers are produced and marketed all year round.

What it tastes and looks like:
Red bell peppers are plump, bell-shaped and have a striking red colour. Bell peppers also come in a wide variety of other colours including yellow and green. Unlike their name, bell peppers have a mild, sweet, fruity taste – they are the only ones (in the Capsicum genus) that do not produce capsaicin, the chemical that causes a strong burning sensation when it comes in contact with mucous membranes.

How to eat / use it:
Red bell peppers can be chopped, diced or cut into different shapes and sizes. By removing the seeds from the inner cavity, peppers can also be cut into rings or left whole for stuffing. Red bell peppers are used in a multitude of dishes, from salads, pizzas and pastas to soups and sauces.

A good source of:
A wide range of antioxidants. The red bell pepper is also an excellent source of vitamins A, B6, C and E among others, and contains important enzymes such as lutein.

Benefits:
According to Dr Oz, the red bell pepper acts as a natural Botox in that it contains twice the amount of vitamin C as oranges and a third of the calories. It has also been found that red bell peppers can activate thermogenesis and increase your metabolic rate, thereby possibly aiding weight loss. In addition to these benefits, preliminary studies have shown peppers to discourage growth of cancer cells, although further research is still required.

[Recipe]
Peppers with Feta and Almonds
This is a vegetarian take on the classic combination of charred peppers and anchovies and comes courtesy of www.nigella.com. For a perfect Saturday lunch, Nigella suggests combining this recipe with a rocket salad, some grilled aubergines dressed with pomegranate and mint and a pile of warmed pita breads.

Ingredients
• 8 red peppers (or yellow or a mixture of both)
• 200 grams feta cheese
• 2 squeezes lemon juice
• 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
• 75 grams blanched almonds (or flaked almonds)
• 2 tablespoons freshly chopped fresh parsley

Method
You can peel the peppers yourself or buy a jar of ready-peeled, oil-softened roasted red bell peppers.

1. Preheat the grill as hot as possible then place the peppers on the rack below. When the skin turns black and blistery, turn them to char every side.
2. When the peppers are black and charred, remove to a large bowl and cover immediately with cling film. Leave for 10 to 20 minutes.
3. Uncover and, one by one, peel and de-seed the peppers. Cut or tear into wide chunks or strips and arrange on a large plate.
4. Crumble the feta over the peppers, squeeze over lemon juice and drizzle with oil. Then scatter with almonds, sprinkle on the parsley and it’s ready to serve!

Other articles you may be interested in:
Go green, get lean
Lisa’s healthy smoothie recipes
Warm veggie salad
Veganise your diet
Passionate about peanut butter

Written by

Danica Potgieter is a sassy sub-editor, witty writer and lover of high heels, lipgloss & her flat iron! (Hates bios, so this is all there is!)

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  1. CherylGD

    Love the recipe; quick, simple and nutritious.

    4 years ago •

  1. fay

    Red peppers are yummy. I love some fire.

    4 years ago •

  1. ABeauty

    I didn’t realise Peppers were that healthy.

    4 years ago •

  1. Pseudo_kate

    Peppers are so yum, plus they add a nice addition of colour to a meal. It’s just a pity how expensive the red and yellow ones are in comparison to the green. It’s sometimes almost 5 times the price. How ridiculous.

    4 years ago •

  1. Carlene

    I love red peppers and cook with them often – nice article!

    4 years ago •

  1. me

    Grilled aubergines dressed with pomegranate sounds great too.

    4 years ago •

  1. NaturalDiva

    Here is another item that is essentially a fruit but it marketed as a vegetable.. *insert tomato reference here*
    I really like the taste of bell peppers and the colours add a festive look to pizza :)

    4 years ago •

  1. Khalisi

    One of my very favorites of the pepper family use it in everything.. thank you for the recipes! Nice that you give tips for the inside as well as the outside!

    4 years ago •

  1. Zellikinz

    I love peppers! Will definitely try out this recipe.

    4 years ago •

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