This recipe for Homemade Roasted Red Peppers is the fifth post in the 2013 Eat Local America! Challenge series. Each year Minnesota co-ops celebrate the bounty of fresh fruits and vegetables available in August by promoting a month of local eating. Minnesota Locavore and readers around the state are taking the challenge to eat meals made from local ingredients. Stop back all month long for recipes, local products and tips for jump starting your month of local food.
One of the highlights of my Eat Local America Challenge every year is to find new ways to make the ingredients I love from scratch. Eating local means reducing the mileage our food travels as much as possible, even if it takes a little more work on my part. Food from farmers’ market to my kitchen takes out the middle steps of sending ingredients to the grocery store or CSA drop site first.
Thankfully there’s no shortage of DIY guides on the web. If it’s possible to make it at home, I guarantee instructions exist somewhere out there. Today I’m sharing some of my favorite “How-To Make” books and blogs to get you thinking about ingredients you can stop buying and start making at home.
5 “Made from Scratch” DIY Books You Should Own
Ricki Carroll’s Home Cheese Making: Recipes for 75 Homemade Cheeses This book is packed with recipes for easy soft cheeses (think ricotta, cream cheese and mozzarella) and if you’re really adventurous hard cheeses like parmesan, cheddar and swiss. The materials to make cheese are much easier to find now as the DIY trend continues.
Alana Chernila’s The Homemade Pantry: 101 Foods You Can Stop Buying and Start Making If you think eating local means you have to give up favorites like pop-tarts and potato chips, this book is for you. Chernila has step-by-step instructions and gorgeous photos for projects for beginner and more advanced DIYers.
Marisa McClellan’s Food in Jars: Preserving in Small Batches Year-RoundI have followed Marisa McClellan’s blog, Food in Jars for a long time. Many of my favorite canning and kitchen staple recipes come from her website. If you want to start canning or try some new recipes to preserve your favorite local ingredients, her book is a great place to start.
Little House in the Suburbs: Backyard farming and home skills for self-sufficient livingAlso born from a blog, Little House in the Suburbs has everything you need for an urban DIY household. From dish soap to ketchup, authors Deanna Casewll, Daisy Siskins, and Jacqueline Musser show you how it’s possible to step out of the grocery store aisles and into the backyard for much of what your family needs.
Jennifer Reese’s Make the Bread, Buy the Butter: What You Should and Shouldn’t Cook from ScratchLet’s be honest, not all DIY projects are really worth the time and effort. Making your own butter when there’s a local, organic option at the co-op doesn’t make sense. That’s why I love these DIY book, it breaks apart the most common DIY kitchen projects and let’s you know if it makes more sense to make it yourself or save the time and buy it. For ingredients Reese recommends homemade, there are simple recipes and a “hassle” guide for how much DIY time you should expect for a project.
I’m also including one of my favorite made-from-scratch projects for roasted red peppers. We love roasted red peppers on pizza, hummus and tossed into wintertime chili and stews. But I’ve yet to find them Minnesota-grown and packaged. (Sidebar: If you know a Minnesotan who’d like to start, call me. We could be great friends.) This recipe comes in handy in late August and September when red peppers can be bought by the half-bushel at the farmers’ market. It takes a few hours to roast, peel, and freeze that many peppers, but the extra smoky flavor in the middle of January is absolutely divine.
How to Roast Red Peppers
1. Start with fresh, high-quality peppers. It doesn’t pay to go to all the trouble to roast and freeze peppers that are not the in the best shape. Dump them in the sink and give the peppers a good scrubbing to take off any dirt and debris. While you’re washing the peppers, preheat the grill. It should be HOT HOT HOT for roasting and depending on the type of grill you have, may take a while to preheat.
2. Slice, seed and quarter the pepper. There are two ways to roast red peppers: whole with the seeds left in or seeded and quartered first. I’ve done both ways and think that roasted them quartered first is a little easier, although some may disagree. It saves having to spend extra time flipping the peppers on the grill to char all the sides and then later having to pick off tiny, pesky seeds on a hot pepper. Choose what works best for you, but if this is your first time, I’d recommend my method.
3. Char the peppers. Place the peppers skin side down on the grill in an even layer. Allow to cook on the highest temperature setting until the skin on the pepper turns black and blisters, about 3-5 minutes. It will look terrible, but that means it’s working.
4. Place into the steam bowl. Immediately remove the pepper slices from the grill and place in an air-tight, heat-resistant container. Cover and seal tightly. I use a glass bowl with lid, but a sturdy container covered in plastic wrap would work as well. Allow the peppers to steam for 10-15 minutes in the container.
5. Peel the skin. After the peppers have steamed, remove the lid and allow them to rest until cool enough to handle. Gently remove the charred skin from the pepper (should peel off easily once pepper is cooled.) Throw away the charred skin and brush off any remaining blackened pieces from the pepper.
6. Pack and freeze. Place cooled peppers into freezer-safe containers, seal and freeze for up to 6 months. I typically freeze our containers in 1/2 cup size, making the containers easy to pull out and thaw for pizza and dips.