One of the typical summer smells of a Mediterranean home is that of chopped bell peppers being fried with onions, aubergines, courgettes and tomatoes to make the base of a delicious caponata.
If you live in Europe and like the taste of bell peppers, the person you should be grateful to is Christopher Columbus, who brought the plant with him from America in 1493. Bell peppers are actually fruits – botanically classified as berries – but they are commonly used as a vegetable ingredient or side dish.
In spite of sharing the same name, our table pepper and bell peppers are not related. The black and white pepper we grind is the seed of the plant Piper nigrum, while bell peppers belong to the species Capsicum.
Although we are mostly familiar with bell peppers that are green, red or yellow, they can also come in other colours, including white, purple, brown and black.
Bell peppers are 94% water, 5% carbohydrates, and negligible fat and protein. They are rich sources of Vitamin C, with a moderate Vitamin B6 content. Red bell peppers have approximately twice the Vitamin C and eight times the Vitamin A content of green bell peppers.