By Gail Johnson
Whether they’re red, green, mild, or feverishly hot, peppers are a coveted B.C. crop.
Capsicums grow from March or April to November in local greenhouses, while the season for Fraser Valley field peppers typically runs from July to October.
Either way, we’re now in peak pepper season, and Metro Vancouver chefs are doing all sorts of creative things with the vividly coloured veggies.
2702 Main Street, Vancouver
Chef/owner Andrea Carlson has been committed to making “farm-to-table” fare before that became a restaurant-industry buzz phrase. She stuffs a delicate grilled leek with mushroom and the moderately spicy cayenne chili pepper, topping the toothsome dish with olive-oil emulsion and smoked walnuts.
8 West Cordova Street, Vancouver
A hit on the cicchetti—small bites—menu at this Italian restaurant is tuna conserva, or confit, the fish bathed in olive oil, with olive and pickled piparra peppers (say that 10 times fast). Native to the Basque region of Spain, this mild chili pepper has a sweetness that’s a little bit tart.
162 Water Street, Vancouver
Oftentimes, the best dishes are the simplest. The Gastown restaurant has one called “Peas & Peppers” consisting of blistered shishito peppers, snap peas, and sherry vinegar. The slender Japanese peppers are sweet and citrusy.
615 Kingsway, Vancouver
Fire-roasted red shishitos and sweet stiletto peppers star in a dish created by executive chef Melanie Witt. The peppers are marinated with red wine vinegar, olive oil, garlic, oregano, white anchovies, and pickled onions, and go beautifully with accompanying grilled bread.
20330 88th Avenue, Langley
Eggplant caponata is one item on the antipasti platter here. Calabrian chili peppers and roasted red bell peppers mingle with kalamata olives, capers, onion, parsley, basil, and other flavourful ingredients. Also on the platter are local and Italian meats and cheeses, marinated artichokes, olives, eggplant caponata, Italian crackers, and toasted filone.
117 – 20353 64 Avenue, Langley
Chef-owner Angie Quaale, a Langley native, likes to add peppers to outdoor barbecues.
One dish she makes has marinated red, green, or yellow bell pepper coated with extra-virgin olive oil and grilled to perfection. She removes the charred skin, seeds, and core; cuts the peppers into strips; seasons with kosher salt; then pours a garlic-and-sherry-vinegar mixture over top.
Another is grilled, stuffed bell peppers. Quaale suggests cutting the peppers in half and filling with rich and creamy chevre cheese, sliced tomato halves, garlic, and capers. She then dresses the peppers with basil, olive oil, and black pepper and grills until the cheese has melted down and tomatoes have softened. To finish, she adds balsamic reduction and more fresh basil.
3995 Main Street, Vancouver
“The Capsicum” at this popular vegetarian restaurant consists of bell-pepper chicharron, sautéed lunchbox and sweet Hungarian peppers, charred Walla Walla onion, and serrano pepper vinaigrette. Robust in flavour, it also has smoked-poblano powder, salted queso fresco, roasted tomatillo-and-serrano salsa verde, along with some cilantro and pickled serrano chilis.