Whip Smart Kitchen

Recipes, methods & musings for the whip-smart home cook

Fundamentals

How to roast peppers in an oven

Method, Fundamentals, Recipe, VegetarianLeannda CavalierComment
Roasted Peppers

It is absolutely incredible how much you can change the flavor of peppers just by roasting them instead of sautéing or sweating them. Let me count the ways: 

1. Roasting adds a smoky touch from the charred skin. The waxy skin of peppers burns up quickly in the oven, acting as a smoky shell for the flesh. 

2. It enhances the sweetness. Ripened bell peppers (red, orange, yellow) are already sweet when they're raw, but other peppers like poblanos, jalapeños and habaneros are decidedly not. Cooking breaks down cell walls, making the sugars much more noticeable. Cooking for a long period of time breaks things down even more, allowing them to react and intensify into more complex flavors. 

3. Both the flavor and the texture get richer, which is great for hearty dishes. Bringing out the oils and juices in the flesh of peppers makes it easier for your mouth to detect all the flavors.

4. The flavor intensifies, but the piquancy softens. Piquancy is the sharpness that leaves you fanning your mouth and reaching for crackers after you take a bite of a raw hot pepper. Roasted peppers are still spicy, but in a more palatable way. 

5. All of this goes double for green peppers, which are unripe. Imagine eating a green bell pepper. It's crunchy, a little astringent and you taste a lot of... green? That's gonna be our chlorophyll. Some enjoy it in raw peppers. Great for photosynthesis. Not so great for chili. 

I'm sure I'm leaving something out, but I think those five enhancements make a pretty strong case. 

Some people like to roast peppers over an open flame on a stovetop. Some people like to grill peppers until they're charred. Great methods. Probably quicker. But who has two thumbs, no grill and an electric range?

this_moi

So what's a cook to do? Turn to the broiler. Yes, that button on the oven that's mysterious to people who don't cook, scary to beginners and a God-send to people who cook regularly. Fun fact: broiling is actually a form of grilling. Both are forms of dry heat that work through radiation. 

So now that we've got the why's out of the way, let's move on to the how. 

This method works best for large peppers like poblano and bell peppers. I've also tried it with jalapeños and habaneros, but they’re a little different. You have to watch them more carefully. The flesh is thin and will burn up easily, so reduce the time and watch more closely (noted in recipe). 

Stick around after the recipe for some suggestions for using roasted peppers. 

howtoroastpeppers

So what can you actually do with these peppers? Here are some suggestions:

  • Use them for chili. I swear by this. I tried it once as an experiment and I will never go back!

  • Blend them into a sauce or even a salad dressing. Red pepper vinaigrette is one of my favorites.

  • Throw roasted red bell peppers on a salad or over eggs. Or over a salad with eggs. 

  • Add to a pan with sautéed onions and garlic, then toss with pasta. Alternatively, use cooled roasted peppers to spice up a pasta salad. 

  • Stuff chicken with strips of roasted pepper and cheese. 

  • Mix with melted queso chihuahua (quesadilla cheese) for a smoky dip. 

Those are just a few things I've made and ideas off the top of my head. What are you going to make with roasted peppers? Tell me in the comments!

Join my VIP list below to get more roasty-goodness, updates and a freebie to help you get the recipe right, every time. 

How to roast garlic

Method, Make-ahead, Fundamentals, RecipeLeannda CavalierComment
how_to_roast_garlic_pinnable

Sautéing garlic is one of the best ways to build a savory foundation for a dish, but I would argue the best trick up garlic's sleeve takes a little more coaxing.

That's right—roasted garlic is where it's at.  

True story: when I was little, I thought all garlic was like roasted garlic by default. My Ya-ya (grandmother) kept a little repurposed pimento jar full of roasted garlic cloves in the fridge at all times. Fast forward to today, I have a tiny pimento jar of roasted garlic in my fridge too. 

Roasted garlic is more like a bear hug than a punch. Though roasting softens the sharper qualities of garlic, it somehow intensifies the flavor. It's heavy and insistent, but not jarring. 

Roasting brings out its sweetness in garlic by breaking down long chains of fructose, garlic's choice of energy storage. As the garlic browns, those sugars provide a caramel flavor. meanwhile, you're softening the sulfurous zing garlic is known for. 

What you're left with is a pod packed with soft, rich, nutty, caramelly, slightly meaty flavor that leaves a totally different impression than the minced, sautéed iteration. 

Another perk of roasted garlic is the texture itself. First—and not to be minimized—roasted garlic is sooo easy to peel. Second, the cloves can be easily smashed into a paste that lends sauces and other mixtures a savory-sweet kick, without compromising texture. You can even use whole cloves as a garnish, as they are soft, smooth and much less offensive then their raw counterparts. 

Okay, now hear me out. Garlic is SO easy to roast. Read this through and I think you'll realize that. This post is a little long, but only because I want everything to be clear as possible. 

So what can you use this magical ingredient for? Here are some of my faves:

  • Use it to add extra layers of flavor to chili.
  • Rub meats with it before (or after!) cooking.
  • Mix with softened butter to make the best garlic bread of your life.
  • Use roasted garlic paste in sauces.
  • Toss pasta with garlic paste and cream.
  • Spread some on toast (it's different!)
  • Work a little roasted garlic paste into your hamburger or meatball mix.
  • Use it as a condiment on a sandwich. 

There are a million and one ways to use this, I'm positive. I'm finding new ones all the time. What will you do with your roasted garlic? Let me know in the comments!

If you liked this post, I'd love for you to join my VIP List. When you do, you'll receive a freebie to help you get every recipe right, every time.