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In season early autumn: Capsicums

What are they

Capsicums are part of the same family as tomatoes, eggplants and potatoes, and are closely related to chillies. They come in a variety of colours including green, purple, red, orange and yellow. All capsicums start out green and colour as they ripen, becoming sweeter and more nutritious (red ones are sweetest). All varieties can be eaten raw and become sweeter with cooking.

Buying

Capsicums should be heavy for their size and firm, shiny and smooth in appearance. Avoid ones that are wrinkled or blemished.

Storing

Refrigerate unwashed for up to seven days.

Nutrition

A nutrient-dense vegetable, capsicum is an excellent source of beta-carotene and vitamin C. It’s also a good source of vitamins B1, B6 and K and folic acid, as well as a number of antioxidants including zeaxanthin (which can help prevent age-related macular degeneration). Red capsicums contain lycopene (said to protect against heart disease and some cancers including prostate).

Using capsicums

  • To use raw, cut in half, remove the seeds and membrane, and slice or dice.
  • To roast, cook whole or in sections (removing seeds and membrane first) in a 220ºC oven until skin is blackened and blistered (about 20 minutes), then place in a plastic bag and seal. When cool enough to handle, the skin should come away easily and they can be used in salads, salsa, or as a side dish.
  • Capsicums add a nice sweetness to pasta, stir-fries and bolognese-style sauces. Dice or slice and add with the onions and garlic.
  • Cut capsicums into quarters, remove the seeds and grill on the barbecue for a tasty side dish with your barbie sausages or steak.
First published: Mar 2008



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