You say tomato I say tomato ! and a dippy pepper or should that be a peppered dip?

You say tomato I say tomato ! That doesn’t quite work written down does it?! But hopefully you know what I mean.

I call them Peppers, you may call them Bell Peppers, Capsicum, Pimento, Poivron or Paprika all depending on where you live; essentially we are all talking about the same thing, not the firey chillies of lore but the sweet kind.

Originating in Central and South America and brought to Europe by Columbus who ,wrongly thinking they were black pepper (or at least related) gave them the Spanish name for pepper – Pimento. Centuries later we are still calling them pepper, they come in every colour and shape – from green, yellow, orange, red and even chocolate coloured.

Where you live you will flavour the way you prepare and eat them – maybe raw in a salsa, or grilled, stuffed, Italian pepper stews, made into dips, part of the melange of a ratatouille. I think cooking transforms peppers – they soften and mellow with heat, the flavour is enriched and sweetened.

Standardised growing has taken much of the shape and taste away. Look for the misshapen, with variations in colour, they will reward you with a flavour burst. I tried a few times, unsuccessfully to grow peppers, I would get one or two but it was a laboured affair. I needed a variety that was early and would ripen in my cooler temperate climate. The Real Seed Company came to my rescue with Napia Pointy Red. I now grow them in the greenhouse. I ‘m realistic enough to know that I will never have a glut, it’s simply not warm enough here in the UK and I don’t have masses of space for lots of plants. Instead of a glut I have a steady stream, each and every one is a sweet and crunchy, ultra fresh treat for the tastebuds. A polytunnel would be ideal for growing them, but it isn’t a must, they can be grown in a sheltered sunny spot in a pot on a terrace, just start them early as they need a long lead in, they are one of the first seeds I sow every year.

Did you know that saving seeds from peppers is easy? The only thing you need to consider is cross-pollination.  Peppers are, how shall we put it nicely, a bit frisky? They will cross-pollinate with any near neighbours from the same family – other chillies and peppers. Which is fine if you are growing them for eating but not is you want to save seeds. To stop this you can build netting cages (Isolation cages) or use netting bags to islate individual flower buds or simply keep them apart. Liking simple I grow chillies in pots on my terrace in the garden and the peppers in the greenhouse, plus I only grow one variety of pepper. It’s one less thing for this busy gardener to have to think about!

If you haven’t already had a peak, take a look at my page on seed saving for chillies and peppers and you’ll see what I mean about easy!

Htipiti - Greek Red Pepper and Feta Dip

From Sophie Grigson The Vegetable Bible

Ingredients ~

  • 125g grilled, skinned red peppers, roughly chopped
  • 1 hot chilli, deseeded and roughly chopped
  • 175g feta cheese, crumbled
  • 1 clove garlic, peeled and roughly chopped
  • Approx 3 tablespoons or olive oil
  • A sprinkle of paprika for serving

Method ~

  • Process all the ingredients in a food processor until smooth – adding the olive oil as you go, so as to create a smooth(ish) dip.
  • Pour into a bowl, sprinkle the paprika on top and serve with Crudités or warmed pita bread
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59 thoughts on “You say tomato I say tomato ! and a dippy pepper or should that be a peppered dip?

  1. What a dip! Simple and bursting with seasonal flavor! Sometimes a “glut” is too overwhelming, best to savor the the season in sunny little bits of sunshine!

  2. I tried growing two plants on the window this year and got only 6 peppers :)
    but you are right, they are a world different from the mass produced pepper you buy at the store.
    I love the idea of the dip and I need to try it real soon

  3. You may not have attempted to grow a lot, Claire but what plants you did grow sure did produce some nice looking peppers! I planted 2 plants this year for my parrot. She loves her chilis, the hotter the better.
    Is today Greek Day? I just finished my lunch, gyros on a pita with tzatziki sauce, and came here to find you’ve shared a great sounding dip, Greek, of course. Do you know what tomorrow is? I got lucky today and don’t want to miss tomorrow’s theme if I can help it. :)

    • Gyros, now that sounds a perfect lunch John! and I’m pretty envious, I haven’t had one for a few years, not sice I last went to Greece. You do relaise it’s not even 8 in the morning and I’m drooling, oh and the peice of toast and fruit I had planned for my breakfast is now sounding distinctly unappealing !!

      • When I visited Greece, my first gyros, from a street vendor, no less, was a revelation. From that day forward, Claire, I ate one gyros a day until I left Greece and it took me years before I ordered one here in the States. There’s just no comparison. ((sigh))

  4. They look wonderful and I love the sound of your dip. I tried growing the Early Lipstick ones from Real Seeds, they all germinated beautifully but then I chickened out of putting them outside and I didn’t pot them up till they were pot bound (my bad) so they have remained on my windowsill all summer and are now ripening, one fruit per plant. I have to work up the nerve to pick them and eat them I guess pretty soon, but they have kept me entertained all through the long months. One of them is producing some flowers. do you think I hope in vain that it will make another pepper at this stage?

    • Hi Joanna, the Early Lipstick sound good and yup if they are red I’d eat them !! You may get another pepper now, but it’s becoming less likely as the day light hours get shorter…… sob, sob ! remind me again, when was our summer ?!

  5. I never met a dip I didn’t like! and this one sounds so good! Keeping the copy…
    I’m roasting some red roaster peppers tomorrow and going to freeze them–do you “keep” any peppers? Can them or anything?

    • I’ve never tried keeping peppers, I don’t grow enough….. but I know of people who roast and skin them and then freeze them. I do usualy have plenty of Chillies and those I freeze whole in plastic containers, and de-frost for a couple of minutes before I need them, they work a treat :)

  6. Very interesting. These look like regular peppers to me, where as bell peppers are usually bigger, and round or square. And most important, the bell peppers that I know are sweet and not sharp. But I did get to know a lot of peppers of different ones when I visited in Mexico, where they dry them on the roofs. Many are quite sharp. I love them, sharp or sweet.

    • Interestingthat you say “regular” Shimon, because in my head I always call these Turkish or Middle Eastern, as that was where I first ate them or bought them (I used to have fabulous Turish shops in London for fruit and veg), so I always associate them like that . And to confuse matters I always think of bell peppers (as you describe them) as being Dutch as that’s where a lot are grown for the UK market !!
      And how wonderful to have visited Mexico, somehwere I would love to explore, and not just fo rthe food :)

  7. I haven’t eaten any peppers for about a year I think – haven’t seen any organic ones about – but perhaps I will try my hand at some in the house next year. Thanks for the tip about starting them early.

  8. You said it ! We need enough sun and especially enough space! I have had the best chiles in Mexico and ever since then I am longing for those chipotles and jalapeños! Lovely post!

  9. I love peppers and yours are beautiful, Claire. I didn’t know anything about how they were originally named and found that quite interesting. I so admire your seed saving! I have been introduced this summer to some really tiny red chili peppers. My neighbors are Cambodian and grow a bush that is covered with these little tiny peppers that are quite hot. I think they’re typically used in Thai cooking. I need to ask more questions, but for now, the bush is growing over our fence and I’m just helping myself! :-) Debra

  10. Love the pepper pics – gorgeous! Your opening line reminds me of a funny story. A voice student auditioned at our university years ago and sang “Let’s Call the Whole Thing Off”. Unfortunately, she sang (phonetic spelling) “You say to-may-to and I say to-may-to, you say po-Tay-to and I say po-Tay-to . . . “. Our Admissions officer at the time raised an eyebrow afterwards and asked “Have you ever heard a recording of this song?” to which she replied, “No, I learned it from the sheet music.” A case of “lost in translation.” :-)

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