Peppers, colour and flavour in our dishes
Pepper, also known as chili, is one of many vegetables that Christopher Columbus'brought' from America. Today, they are a staple of our gastronomy. Whether it's raw or spiced. You want to know what types are there and how to cook them?
It belongs to the solanaceae family which also includes potatoes, tomatoes and aubergines, even though they do not seem similar.
Their main component is water, they give us energy in the form of carbohydrates and have a low calorie content. Furthermore, they are rich in fibre, folates, antioxidants and vitamins, mainly vitamin C. In fact, they provide more than oranges, strawberries and kiwis, especially if we eat them raw.
There are many varieties with different characteristics in the kitchen. The red ones are usually roasted, the green ones are better fried, and the yellow, with a sweeter taste, are tasty when eaten raw.
Main ingredient and seasoning
Peppers are a basic part of our cooking and come in different formats to adapt to the needs of each dish. As well as fresh or cooked, peppers are used in many dishes as seasoning. This is the case with ‘choricero’ pepper in the north and centre, cayenne, or the ñora in the Levante area, the basis of many traditional stews that have passed from generation to generation.
Paprika is essential in any kitchen, the powdered ‘form’ of red pepper. It can be sweet or spicy depending on the variety of pepper used. In our country, the most widely known is the ‘La Vera’, which comes from the area of Caceres, and has a Denomination of Origin. As well as adding flavour, it is used as a natural food colouring.
Did you know... Red pepper has twice as many vitamins as green pepper, which is really a red pepper but not ripe.
They can be separated into two groups depending on their flavour.
This group contains the red, the sweet pepper (one of the most widely used in our cooking), the green, the Italian (green but longer and flatter) and the yellow or orange, which have become more popular in recent years. Another sweet variety, which has become popular recently is the Sweet Palermo, which looks similar to the Italian but is red. They are usually used raw in salads, as a base for a garnish and fried dishes, stuffed and roasted.
This group contains, for example, piquillo peppers, small green Padron peppers, guindillas and chilli peppers… the capsaicin is the characteristic component which gives them the spicy flavour.
Contrary to popular belief, hot peppers, eaten in moderation, are not harmful to people with stomach problems, since in small quantities they help digestion by stimulating the intestinal mucosa.
Tip: The burning can be alleviated with sugar or milk, water is not very effective….