The following article was submitted by a freelance writer in Australia. Please note that Capsicum is the Latin name for "Peppers" of all types.

The Versatile Capsicum by Gary Keenan, 1998

When the famous explorer Christopher Columbus sailed into his homeland of Spain bringing with him the seeds of the capsicum plant from the West Indies, he could have never imagined those tiny seeds would produce one of the most versatile vegetables used in today's cooking. The word capsicum is used to encompass the entire family of peppers and chilies. In this article I will be referring to the sweeter style of capsicums. Historians believe capsicums have been a stable diet of humans since 7500bc. The bell pepper was the first of the sweet peppers to be mentioned in history, in 1699. Although capsicums are one of the oldest versatile vegetables in history, it is in today's times that they have come of age. Most cultures throughout the world have many dishes that include capsicum as an ingredient. The versatility of this vegetable can found in many diverse recipes and styles of food such as Indian, Greek, Lebanese, Italian and Spanish.

There are three varieties of capsicums most commonly found in supermarkets, the most recognizable one being the bell pepper aptly, named due to its bell like shape. The bell pepper ranges in colour from green to dark red, has a juicy flesh and is sweet in taste, and is used in most recipes that contain capsicum. The Banana pepper, which can be found in most fruit and vegetable shops, is bright yellow in colour, long and banana shaped and not as sweet as the bell pepper, and looks fantastic in salads. The bull horn pepper is thin, curved, and light green in flavour, has a slight peppery taste, and complements most dishes that require a mild pepper flavour. Capsicums are not just versatile in adding flavour and colour to recipes, they are also high in nutritional value. They are high in vitamin C and contain vitamin A, calcium, iron, thiamin, riboflavin and niacin. Capsicums can be boiled, stewed, blanched, roasted, grilled, stuffed, added to salads and make wonderful interesting sauces. They can accompany nearly all styles of food from steaks to goat cheese. Next time you are in the local fruit and vegetable shop, pick up a couple of capsicums. You will be hard pushed to find a more colourful, tasty, healthy and versatile ingredient to add to your meals.

Roasted Capsicum Soup


6 red capsicums

2 cloves garlic peeled

1 sprig fresh rosemary

2 tomatoes

1 litre of chicken stock

1/2 cup of cream


Place capsicums and tomatoes in a baking dish with a little oil, roast in moderate oven until skins start to blister about 40 minutes. Peel skins from tomatoes and capsicum, remove stalks and seeds. Chop tomatoes, place in saucepan with capsicum, garlic, chicken stock and oregano, and simmer for 25 mins. Remove oregano and blend saucepan ingredients in a food processor. Serve hot with cracked pepper and cream. Serves 4.

Capsicum Salsa


1 red bell pepper

1 banana pepper

1 bulls horn pepper

1 Spanish onion

1 red Chile

1 lime

1/4 cup red wine vinegar

1/4 cup olive oil

1 teaspoon

balsamic vinegar

2 tomatoes

1/4 cup chopped chives


Remove stalks and seeds from capsicum and Chile dice finely, dice onion place in bowl with chopped chives, red wine vinegar, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and juice of lime. Gently stir and place in refrigerator for 1 hour allowing the flavour to enhance. Serve with any variety of seafood or pork fillets.

Tips and Trick

When storing in the refrigerator, place in a plastic bag; will keep fresh and crisp for a week. When freezing always remove the stalk and seeds and only freeze raw capsicum. As the capsicum will be a little mushy when defrosted, only use it in making sauces. Removing the skin from the capsicum stops the bitter taste and eliminates any gritty consistency in soups or sauces. After roasting or char grilling capsicums place in a plastic bag for 20 minutes to sweat, makes the removal of skin easy. When serving capsicum in salads remove the white pith from the inside; there is nothing wrong with the pith, it just makes the presentation look professional. Buy capsicums that are firm and have hard stems, shiny skins, richly coloured and have no blemishes; avoid limp and damaged ones.