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What Are Sweet Peppers?

Orzo salad including tomatoes, sweet peppers and onions.
Sweet red bell peppers.
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  • Written By: Sara Schmidt
  • Edited By: Andrew Jones
  • Last Modified Date: 17 April 2014
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Crisp, juicy sweet peppers are a favorite food of many people. A botanical fruit, peppers are prepared as vegetable dishes, and can be used in most styles of cooking. Also known as bell peppers, sweet peppers can be used in salads, sandwiches, stews, and many other dishes.

Sweet, mild peppers can add a zesty flavor to nearly any meal. Stuffed peppers filled with rice, ground beef, seasonings, and tomato sauce are a favorite Southern comfort food in the United States. Peppers can be stewed, grilled, broiled, roasted, baked, sautéed, or even served raw as a snack. The colorful, bouncy peppers can also visually enhance a meal.

A rich source of antioxidants, sweet peppers are filled with vitamins C and A. Red peppers tend to contain more of these nutrients than other colors. One cup (230 grams) of fresh, chopped sweet peppers contains 30 calories, trace amounts of fat, three grams (a tenth of one ounce) of fiber, one gram (.04 ounces) of protein, and no cholesterol. Peppers are also a good source of potassium.

Bold red, orange, and yellow sweet peppers are usually readily available in supermarkets. They may also be present in other colors, such as white, purple, pink, brown, and most commonly, green. When choosing a bell pepper, be sure that the skin is healthy and firm, devoid of wrinkles. The peppers themselves should be heavy, with vibrant green stems and no broken skin or indentations.

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Peppers work well with dozens of different ingredients. Paprika, olive oil, and tomatoes are some favorite dressings used for peppers. Vegetables such as corn, onions, and chilies work well with sweet peppers. Many cooks like to use bell peppers with meat dishes, such as chicken, beef, or anchovies. Other common pepper flavorings include vinegar, basil, lemon, coriander, and garlic.

When substituting for different types of peppers in recipes, it is important to note that a tablespoon (14 grams) of dried bell pepper is the equivalent of three tablespoons (43 grams) of fresh, chopped pepper. The cachucha pepper, cubanelle, Holland, and other sweet varieties of pepper can be substituted for bell peppers. Flavors from substitutions, however, can result in a variance from the mild taste of the sweet pepper.

Bell peppers will keep fresh for up to a week if stored within the refrigerator. Peppers should be stored unwashed, and washed prior to use. Other names the bell pepper may be called include capsicum, Bulgarian pepper, chile dulce, pepper-fruit, paprika, mangoed peppers, or mango. The pepper may also be identified by its color, such as green pepper or red pepper.

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