The pepper belongs to the genus Capsicum and the Solanaceae family, just like the chili. The most widely grown variety is the Capsicum annuum. It's in any case a typical vegetable of the summer season and cultivated for centuries around the world, from Europe to China and Peru, which explains why it's present in the traditional recipes of many countries. Spread in many different varieties, it differs primarily for the color of the skin, which can be red or yellow. In fact, contrary to what you think, green bell pepper is a specimen is not yet mature. Furthermore the varieties differ in size, shape and flavor of the vegetables.
The pepper plant to develop properly it needs fertile soil and a warm climate; sowing takes place in late February and the fruits are ripe in June-July. If you plant the seeds in a different period, you have an extra harvest season.
Origins e history
Loved and appreciated especially in the southern regions (they are well known to the Spanish gazpacho and the Sicilian ratatouille), the pepper is a plant native to South America and imported with other animal and plant species in Europe since the sixteenth century. It was originally a native of Brazil, but at the time of Columbus's arrival in the Antilles it was already present in Central America.
Nutritional properties and benefits
The pepper is a vegetable whose consumption is recommended during the summer season: it's composed of 92% water and contains a large amount of mineral salts, especially potassium, phosphorus, calcium, iron and magnesium. In addition, its content of vitamin C it's four times greater than of citrus, as well as to promote the absorption of iron, the development of the muscles and the body's resistance against infections.
Just think that 50 grams of red peppers are equivalent to 75% of your recommended daily vitamin C. These vegetables are also very rich in vitamins E, B, J and K, of fibers and of vitamin A: in this way, peppers fight the action of free radicals, prevent cell aging, cardiovascular disease and the appearance of tumors and allow to keep the line.
They give a sense of satiety, even if the calories eaten are few. Finally, especially in the red bell pepper, there are high levels of carotene and capsaicin: the first substance helps to cleanse the body, while the second has antibacterial, antitumor, analgesic and anti-diabetes.
The use of pepper in cooking
The consumption of the pepper can be difficult for some people who find it heavy and indigestible; this can be explained either by the presence of cellulose on the skin both for the fact that the vegetable contains solanine. This substance is sometimes rejected by the body. Peppers with lower rates of solanine are those grown in summer with sun exposure and colorful; on the contrary, they are the green specimens to contain a higher percentage.
The vegetables can be cooked in various ways (au gratin, stuffed, roasted, with pasta) or eaten raw: in this case, to prevent it from getting too heavy, it's recommended to remove the peel having scalded the vegetable for a few minutes boiling water and passing it under cold water.
It's reccomended to choose shiny and solids exemplary, with the stalk attached and taut skin. Among the stuffed peppers they are highly appreciated those filled with ricotta, salt, olive oil, pepper and parsley and chopped mint.
Other very tasty recipes are skewers of red pepper slices and chicken chunks and grilled fish and red peppers. Finally you can also fry the vegetable, choosing varieties longer suited to the cooking mode: they're called "friggitelli".
Pepper has very different forms: it can be stretched, bell-shaped, round or slightly square. At the same time it changes the taste, ranging from the strong and spicy with that delicate and sweet. Depending on the variety, the vegetable sizes are different. Pepper has the ability to inhibit nitrosamines and carcinogens responsible in particular of the brain tumor, but various vitamins content is reduced by as much as 60% with baking.