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Antohi Romanian Sweet Peppers
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Antohi Romanian sweet peppers are tapered, narrow pods, averaging ten centimeters in length and five centimeters in diameter, and have a conical shape with a defined point on the non-stem end. The smooth, taut, and semi-shiny skin is pale yellow when young, transforming into orange, and then into bright red when mature. Underneath the surface, the flesh is thick, crisp, and aqueous with a central cavity containing many small, round, cream-colored seeds. Antohi Romanian sweet peppers have a mild, sweet, and slightly fruity flavor.
Antohi Romanian sweet peppers are available in the fall through winter.
Antohi Romanian sweet peppers, botanically classified as Capsicum annuum, are an heirloom variety that grows on small plants less than one meter in height and belongs to the Solanaceae or nightshade family. Native to Romania, Antohi Romanian sweet peppers are named after a Romanian acrobat who introduced the pepper to the United States and are favored for their sweet flavor and thick-walled flesh. Antohi Romanian sweet peppers are not cultivated on a large commercial scale, but they are considered a specialty home garden variety that is easy-to-grow and produces a high yield of pods.
Antohi Romanian sweet peppers are an excellent source of vitamin C, which can help stimulate collagen production in the body, and vitamin A, which can help improve overall eye health and prevent vision loss. The peppers also contain fiber and essential minerals like magnesium, iron, and potassium.
Antohi Romanian sweet peppers are considered a frying pepper and are typically destemmed, sliced in half, seeds and ribs removed, and pan-fried in olive oil. This preparation brings out the sweet flavor in the flesh, and after cooking, the fried peppers can be sprinkled in herbs and served as a stand-alone dish. Fried Antohi Romanian sweet peppers can also be layered in veggie sandwiches, sliced and added to pasta, tossed into green salads, or used as a vegetable side dish. In addition to frying, the peppers can be stuffed with meat, grains, and vegetables and baked dry or they can be coated in a tomato sauce and sour cream. Antohi Romanian sweet peppers can also be coated in olive oil and garlic and baked on its own to be eaten on toast, layered into sandwiches, blended into soups, or tossed into salads. When raw, Antohi Romanian sweet peppers can be chopped into gazpacho or salsa. Antohi Romanian sweet peppers pair well with meats such as ground turkey, pork, and beef, rice, herbs such as basil, dill, and parsley, eggplant, tomatoes, garlic, balsamic vinegar, and olive oil. The sweet peppers will keep up to one week when loosely stored in a plastic bag in the refrigerator.
Legend has it that Antohi Romanian sweet peppers gained global notoriety due to the circus. During the mid-1980s, several Romanian circus performers fled to the United States to escape harsh conditions under the communist rule of the Soviet Union. One of these acrobats was Jan Antohi. According to legend, Jan missed his mother’s cooking after living in the United States under asylum. After the fall of the Soviet Union, he returned to Romania to visit his mother and brought the heirloom pepper seeds back with him to the United States to grow and use in home cooking. In 1991, the seeds made their way to Seed Savers, which is an organization that collects, grows, and shares heirloom seeds, and since then, the peppers have become popular among American gardeners for their prolific yields and sweet flavor.
Sweet peppers are native to South and Central America and were introduced into Europe by Portuguese and Spanish explorers beginning in the 16th and 17th centuries. While the exact dates of when peppers were introduced to Romania are unknown, Antohi Romanian sweet peppers are descendants of those original pepper varieties and have been heavily cultivated in the southeastern European country for hundreds of years. Antohi Romanian sweet peppers were brought to the United States in 1991 by acrobat Jan Antohi and were introduced into the market as a favorable home garden variety. Today Antohi Romanian sweet peppers are still predominately found in home gardens, but they can also be found on a small scale at farmers markets and specialty grocers in the United States and Europe.