Best season, summer and autumn
Once an exotic import from the Mediterranean, now an everyday, ever-available staple, but best home grown in the summer and autumn. Peppers actually come in all kinds of colours, but red, green and yellow are the most widely available. When peppers are grown, they begin green, and then, if left on the stalks to mature, this mellowing results in red peppers, with a sweeter flesh (which is better if they are to be eaten raw or only lightly cooked).
But the green ones do have a special character of their own – a sharper, more robust flavour, which stands up to long, slow cooking. For this reason, I am very much against any snobbish dismissal of green peppers as being somehow inferior. In fact, certain cuisines, such as Cajun and Creole, seem to only ever include green peppers in their recipes.
Yellow peppers are more like red in flavour, and their golden-yellow colour can look very pretty in certain dishes.
To prepare peppers, firstly, slice the top off the pepper, including the stalk, then with the tip of a small knife, scrape out the seeds and core. Now slice the pepper into quarters, and again, using the tip of the knife, slice away any very white, pithy bits. Then slice or chop according to the recipe . If the recipe calls for finely chopped pepper, you can use the round lid bit around the stalk and chop that, too.
To cook peppers: to peel or not to peel is the vexed question. I say don’t bother. After discovering the recipe for Piedmont Roasted Peppers – which are lovely in the autumn when the peppers are in season and the tomatoes are ripe and red – and publishing it in my book Summer Collection, I decided they were the very best cooked peppers I’d ever tasted, so I stopped going to the bother of peeling them.
So all the recipes I have done since then use the peppers as they are, skins and all. They can be sautéed, stir-fried in strips till blackened at the edges and tender, or oven-roasted, sprinkled firstly with olive oil and seasoning, then placed in the oven at gas mark 8, 450°F (230°C) for 30-40 minutes
Vegetarians will love these chickpea cutlets - a cheap and easy meal that's quick to make once you've soaked the chickpeas and a good way of upping your intake of nutritious puses. Curry powder and cayenne pepper add plenty of spice.
On their own, lentils can be a bit bland, but with this spiced lentil cakes Delia has added plenty of flavour with tomato, herbs and spices. A brilliant vegetarian recipe that's cheap and easy to make, but also extremely nutritious and filling.
A simple and cheap vegetarian recipe for one that's certainly full of flavour! Adapt it to suit other vegetables if you prefer and serve it with filling and nutritious brown rice.
This frugal recipe includes aubergines, peppers, mushrooms and tomatoes so will be cheapest to make in early autumn when these ingredients are in season: enjoy!
This stunning prawn starter is easy to make and will wow your guests with its intriguing mix of flavours - a wonderful way to start a special meal.