Varieties: Capsicums are generally sold by colour: Green, which have a mildly sweet taste; Yellow, which have pale yellow to bright orange skin and moderately sweet flesh; and Red, which have very sweet flesh. Capsicum shape varies from square and blocky to elongated, like a bull’s horn. They have thick green stems and are mostly hollow inside, with edible, but bitter, seeds.
Buying: Choose capsicums that are heavy and firm with taut, shiny, brightly coloured skin. Avoid capsicums with blemished skin, mould on the stem or ones that containing loose, rattling seeds.
Storing: Capsicums can be stored at room temperature for 3–4 days, or refrigerated for up to week. Once sliced, wrap tightly in plastic or store in an airtight container and refrigerate – they’ll last for 2–3 days. Leftover capsicum can be frozen from fresh in a sealable plastic bag, but will lose its crunch when thawed.
Preparing: Capsicum can be eaten raw on its own or mixed into salads, salsas, and antipasto platters. It can also be barbecued, roasted, stuffed with mince and rice, or added to stir-fries, curries, pastas, soups, breads, frittatas and casseroles.
4 quick ways with capsicum
Roast capsicum is a flavourful addition to any dish. Quarter and seed capsicums. Grill under high heat, skin side up, for 10 minutes, or until skin blackens and begins to bubble. Transfer to a plastic bag to sweat and let stand until cool enough to handle. Gently peel and discard skin, then cut capsicum into strips. For a delicious sandwich, layer roasted capsicum, grilled eggplant, semi-dried tomatoes and goat’s cheese on slices of wholemeal bread.
Cool down with a crunchy capsicum salad. Thinly slice 2 raw capsicums, 1 red onion and 1 cucumber. Toss with 1 tablespoon each olive oil, white wine vinegar, chopped parsley and chopped green onions. Serve with grilled fish and brown rice.
Need a quick snack idea? Seed and quarter a red capsicum and top it with low-fat cottage cheese and a small spoonful of pesto. Or mix together corn kernels, leftover cooked rice, salsa and a spoonful of avocado dip and use it to top thick slices of capsicum.
For an easy, healthy dip with punch, blend together 3 roasted capsicums, 125g light sour cream, a pinch of cayenne pepper, 2 garlic cloves and 1/2 bunch coriander leaves in a food processor. Purée until smooth and serve with vegie sticks.
Did you know? One capsicum has almost enough vitamin C to meet the daily requirements of three people. Red capsicum is also a rich source of lycopene, which has been shown to help reduce the risk of cancer.