What is Capsicum?
Capsicum is a genus of flowering plants in the nightshade family Solanaceae. Other members of the family include potatoes, eggplant and tomatoes. It is native to the Americas, with the etymology of its name coming from Latin and Greek words.
Difference Between Capsicum and Bell Pepper
There is no difference between the two. They are merely called by different names in different countries. In Australia, India, Singapore and New Zealand, they are called capsicum, while the Americans and Canadians refer to them as bell peppers, chili pepper or simply red or green peppers.
No one knows why it’s called a pepper apart from perhaps its slight bite, as it has no botanical relationship with actual peppers of any kind.
Types of Capsicum
Is there really a difference between the red, yellow, orange and green capsicum? At The Devil Wears Salad, we love to use a variety of them, especially for colour.
The sweetest coloured capsicum is by far the orange variety, which incidentally is the hardest to find. When they are available, we tend to get them as they are perfect for crudites or thrown in a simple garden salad for a midweek meal.
The red capsicum is the most common and the most versatile. It can be consumed as it is, or it can be roasted or added into a casserole. They are also easy to find and highly affordable.
Yellow capsicum is also sweet, and it is also the softest variety of them all. The flesh is not as crunchy as the others, and its colour is incredibly vibrant.
The green capsicum is the least sweet capsicum of them, and that’s because it is harvested before it is ripe. Hence, the green colour. It is spicier than the others, and you’ll find that it is quite aromatic.
What Does Capsicum Taste Like?
Flavour: In general, you’ll find that capsicum has a relatively mild flavour. Depending on which pepper, it can go from slightly sweet to even a little bitter. See above for the comparisons across the main 4 coloured capsicums.
If you wish to select sweeter capsicum, opt for the female pepper. You can determine if they are female by looking at the bottom. A 4 lobed capsicum is female and a 3 lobed capsicum is male. The female variety is much better when you wish to eat it raw.
Texture: Capsicum has a thick flesh with a very thin skin that is usually eaten together. You can remove the skin by grilling them on an open flame or roasting them. The skin will give way slightly, and you can peel it off.
The inside of the capsicum is hollow with seeds. They are typically removed.
Capsicum is crunchy when eaten raw and quite light in density. Put it through a cooking process of some kind, and it mellows completely and can become incredibly soft.
What Goes Well with Capsicum?
Fruit and Vegetables
Asparagus, avocado, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, carrot, cauliflower, celery, chilli, corn, cucumber, eggplant, endive, fava bean, green bean, jackfruit, lettuce, papaya, pomegranate, potatoes, pumpkin, radish, spaghetti squash, tamarind, tomato, zucchini, zucchini flower.
Herbs, Nuts and Spices
Allspice, cashew, cayenne pepper, chervil, chives, coriander, cumin, macadamia nut, paprika, parsley, peanut, rosemary, saffron, sumac, tarragon.
Protein and Other
Beef, blue cheese, breadcrumbs, bulgur, cheddar cheese, chickpea, crab, curry, farro, feta cheese, fish, goat cheese, ham, lentil, parmesan cheese, prawn, quinoa, salami, wild rice.
How to Use Capsicum in Salads and Side Dishes?
Capsicum is perfectly good as it is, and they are excellent salad ingredients as it gives it a bit of bite plus it comes in all shapes, sizes and colours. Just cut them open, remove the seeds and cut them however you need for your recipe.
This is also a great vegetable to roast or bake. You can do so on its own, or you can stuff them with all sorts of ingredients. They withstand the heat well and keep their shape.
Roasted capsicum is so sweet, and at this point, you can peel off the skin if you wish to remove some of the slight bitterness from the vegetable. However, the smokiness and charring from the roasting process are delicious!
They can be sautéed, blanched, air fried, grilled on a BBQ or even smoked. Love the ability to apply all sorts of different methods to create the dish you need. Which is why it is so popular!
Salads and Side Dishes with Capsicum
Love transforming simple everyday ingredients into a delectable recipe. This baby bell pepper salad shows how we can take advantage of the sweetness of common vegetables and make a side dish worthy of any main.
Deliciously sweet roasted baby peppers, caramelised eggplant and tangy lemon, mingled in with nutty tricolour quinoa and a zingy lemon garlic dressing. A colourful vegan quinoa recipe that would shine at any potluck meal.
Indulge in some fresh baby corn and make a salad that showcases this premature vegetable. Topped with crispy parsnip ribbons and mixed through with a spicy salad dressing, it’s a recipe you’d make over and over again!
More Ingredient Pairings
Here are more ingredient pairing ideas for your next salad creation!
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