It is so helpful in the kitchen to have bibs and bobs that you can munch on while cooking (or watching TV, or changing the baby, or reading that novel). And lots of bibs and bobs that you can add to the dishes that you are cooking to add more flavour, texture, colour and bulk.
This is one of those recipes. It produces not only great snacks, but also a treasure trove for adding to soups, vegetable stews, curries and other dishes.
How to Use Dried Capsicums
There are several different points at which the capsicums can be removed from the oven for quite different results, flavours and textures.
You can remove some of the capsicums half way through the drying process for delicious, slightly sweet, semi-dried capsicums, just right for tarts, pasta, risottos, salads and eating on their own. About 3/4 way through, remove some and cover with good quality virgin olive oil, for similar use over the next few weeks. They make great snacks and can also be used in the same way as semi dried tomatoes. Leave the rest to dry to completion until all moisture is removed and they are intensely flavoured little bites. Store in zip lock bags or grind to a powder.
Either way, they make great, chewy and flavoursome snacks, can be used in soups, risottos, salads, pasta sauces, lentil dishes, tarts, pies, toppings … the opportunities are endless.
To grind into a powder, grind them in a spice grinder, with a mortar and pestle, or in a blender. When ground, they can be incorporated in any sort of preparations, such as pasta and bread dough. Sprinkle them into vegetable dishes, risotto and other rice dishes. Include in salad dressings, dips, salsas and dukhas.
The taste was a real surprise. So intensely sweet! This was a surprise. And so intensely capsicumy!
How to Dry Capsicums, Bell Peppers and Chillies
Wash the peppers, capsicums or chillies. Remove the top from the chillies but otherwise leave the chillies whole. For the capsicums, remove the core – the tops and seeds. Quarter them and remove any of the white flesh along the ribs.
Heat the oven to 50C. Place the quartered capsicums on foil on a tray and place in the middle of the oven. They can dry overnight (although the aroma might drive you crazy while you are trying to sleep), or during the day. If during the day, turn them every 60 or so minutes. Dry for 8 – 10 hours.
If you wish, remove some of the capsicums half way through the drying process for delicious, slightly sweet, semi-dried capsicums, about 3/4 way through, remove some more and cover with good quality virgin olive oil. Leave the rest to dry to completion.
The real surprise was how, during the drying process, the capsicums became sort of sticky. It is caused by the caramelisation of the sugars in the capsicums. The taste became really very sweet as well. They are excellent to use at this time, semi dried, slightly sticky and sweet.
Whole chillies can also be dried this way. Remove the top, shake out any loose seeds, place on a tray and dry for around 4 – 6 hours.