Canned “yams” smothered in marshmallows—the mention of the dish sends a chill up my spine. They were a staple of my childhood Thanksgivings and for years I was convinced that I hated sweet potatoes. I know many Americans especially Midwesterners who share this experience, and consequently despise the sweet potato rejecting it in all forms.
But this dish with its complex sweet, spicy, and nutty flavor and creamy, crunchy texture convinced me to re-examine my opinion of the orange tuber. In fact, I have insisted on cooking these for family and friends on a single-woman crusade to change the minds of the many Midwesterners who share a sad and checkered past with those “candied yams.” Just like Sam-I-Am I feel such joy when their eyes open wide in surprise and delight to at last discover that “They do! They do like sweet potatoes. And they would eat them on a boat. And they would eat them with a goat…”
Sometime in fall, my attention turns from tomatoes to peppers. Sweet red, yellow, and orange bell peppers come into season in Southeast Wisconsin in Mid-September and usually stick around until sometime in early November–a mere 6 or 7 weeks to enjoy one of the most delicious treats from the farmers market. During peak season, farmers practically give them away— 2 or 3 for a dollar!!! That’s a steel of a deal compared with prices at the supermarket. So while they are in season, run to the market and buy as many as your freezer can hold. You will not regret this.
First determine how many you plan to freeze as is and how many you plan to freeze roasted. Make sure to set aside 3 of the roasted peppers to make Romesco.
How to Freeze a Fresh Pepper
All peppers freeze well. Simply wash them, remove the seeds and white membranes, and cut them how you would like to use later—chopped, sliced, halved etc. After preparing peppers, place them on a cookie sheet and freeze. This is called IQF—Individually Quick Frozen. Once individually frozen, transfer the peppers to a freezer-safe plastic bag or box, date and label. Use these peppers in cooked dishes, not raw, as they lose their crispness. I uses them in stir-fries and soups.
How to Roast Peppers
Peppers can be roasted on a grill, under an oven broiler or directly on the grate of a gas stove. I use the grill as it is the easiest way to do larger quantities and it can be done while grilling other food.
Place whole washed peppers on a clean grill on medium high heat.
Char and blister each side of the pepper (3-4 minutes each side) turning with a metal tong.
Once the pepper is charred evenly, place in a bowl and cover with a plate or a larger nesting bowl to contain the steam.
Allow the peppers to steam at least 15 minute.
If you plan to eat the peppers soon, remove the stem, seeds, and skins with your fingers. Do not use water to wash the seed away as this will reduce the sweet, smoky flavor attained in roasting.
Oven Broiler Method
Follow the steps above but #1. Instead place peppers on a cookie sheet and place under the broiler.
Stove Top Method
Follow the steps above but #1. Instead place peppers directly on the grate of the stove top and turn gas to high. You can roast 2 or 3 peppers on each grate. This only works with gas stoves.
Storing roasted peppers in the refrigerator
Roasted peppers kept in an air tight container will keep for 2-3 days in the refrigerator. Peppers drizzled with olive oil, will keep for about 1 week.
Storing roasted peppers in the freezer
Place roasted peppers with skins and seeds still intact on a cookie sheet. Freeze and transfer to a freezer-safe bag or box. It’s easier to remove the skin and seed from partially defrosted peppers as the pepper is stiff and easier to handle.