In Defense of the Much-Maligned Green Pepper

published Jun 10, 2015
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The green pepper will never be anyone’s desert island food. It will not be a featured ingredient on any chef’s tasting menu. It’s not likely to receive protected heirloom status anytime soon, or even have clever food puns written in its honor.

I’m here today to speak up on behalf of the much-maligned, rarely celebrated green bell pepper. It isn’t sexy. It’s not even all that pretty. Really, it’s downright bitter. And that’s what I think makes it special.

Green Peppers Are Just Misunderstood

Listen, I get it — you’re happily slurping your soup or nomming on some delicious salad when a harsh, bitter, spiritless flavor invades your mouth and suddenly you’re making the Mr. Yuk face. Ugh. Green peppers. The worst.

But I contend that these green peppers are just misunderstood. They suffer from the misguided belief that they can just be tossed willy-nilly into any vegetable-filled dish, like rice at a wedding.

Because here’s the thing — green peppers are bitter. They just are. That’s their nature. It’s a bitterness that cannot be tamed by roasting or simmering or wishing it would be otherwise.

Accept Green Peppers for What They Are

Once you know and accept that green peppers are going to be bitter, this is knowledge you can use. Bitterness has its time and place in cooking — it can help cut through a too-rich dish, it can clear your palate for the next bite, it can make a one-note dish more complex and interesting — you just have to be smart about it.

Think of green peppers as playing a supporting role, not a starring one.

Cut them into smaller pieces so they get distributed more evenly throughout the dish, and you never end up with a mouthful of yuck.

Also, be careful of using green peppers in dishes with lots of other bitter flavors. Like salads. Bitter green peppers in a salad with bitter greens is bitter bomb. Just … don’t.

Green Peppers Are Our Friends

In conclusion, green peppers definitely deserve a spot on your shopping list. If you’ve gotten into the habit of skipping over them in recipes or subbing in their more winsome red and orange cousins, then maybe it’s time to give green peppers another go.

5 Recipes That Prove Green Pepper’s Worth

Okay, let’s hug it out.