As well as being delicious and vibrantly coloured, red capsicums, or red bell peppers, contain an impressive list of plant nutrients. Red capsicums contain an alkaloid compound capsaicin. Laboratory studies suggest that capsaicin has anti-bacterial, anti-carcinogenic, analgesic and anti-diabetic properties. When used judiciously, capsaicin reduce triglycerides and LDL cholesterol levels in obese individuals.
100 g sweet red pepper provides about about 213% of RDA of vitamin C. 100 g of sweet pepper has 3131 IU or 101% of RDA of vitamin A. In addition, it contains anti-oxidant flavonoids such as α and β carotenes, lutein, zea-xanthin, and cryptoxanthin, all valuable antioxidants. Some of the main minerals in red capsicums are iron, copper, zinc, potassium, manganese, magnesium, and selenium. Manganese is used by the body as a co-factor for the antioxidant enzyme, superoxide dismutase. Selenium is an anti-oxidant micro-mineral that acts as a co-factor for enzyme, superoxide dismutase.
Further, capsicum provides B-complex group of vitamins such as niacin, pyridoxine (vitamin B-6), riboflavin, and thiamin (vitamin B-1). These vitamins are essential in the sense that body requires them from external sources to replenish. B-complex vitamins facilitate cellular metabolism through various enzymatic functions.
2 large fleshy red capsicums/red bell peppers
1 garlic clove, also roasted
1–2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil - this can be omitted
80 ml (⅓ cup) sour cream, Greek yogurt, labne or quark
salt and black pepper, to taste, if needed
Cut the red capsicum in halves, spray or brush lightly with olive oil, roast in the oven at 200C with the skin side up till skin blackens, (but not too much!). Slip the hot capsicums into a plastic bag or a container with a lid for about 10 minutes - this helps to lift the skins off, so they are easy to peel. Peel, chop the flesh and drain. It is important that the capsicum be well-cooked, and well-drained, lest the dip be too runny. Save the juices for vegetable stock.
Roast the garlic at the same time - be careful not to let it burn.
Place all ingredients in a blender and whizz till well combined.
Adjust seasonings and the amount of cream/labne to exactly suit your taste.
Serve with brown rice crackers, crusty bread, or crudités.
Labne will not contribute moisture, but will add creaminess. To make labne, place full cream plain yogurt in a cloth placed inside a strainer and let drip. Placing a weight on top will help to get the moisture out. Usually takes 12 hours or so.
If you are tying to create a vegan version, add a slice or two of mild-flavoured bread when blending, to absorb moisture and add to creaminess.