Tonawanda News

September 24, 2012

Grilled sweet peppers a treat

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The Tonawanda News

Tonawanda News — I love to grill during the summer, and hold the status of acknowledged grillmaster in our household .. which always seems to surprise people who know I”m — mostly — a vegetarian.

While I understand why they might have that perception, the reality is that I live with three meat-eaters, grown and growing, and I can’t be too adverse to throwing the occasional burger and steak on the grill lest I lose grillmaster status. Plus, grilled salmon and shrimp are absolutely among my favorite foods (I did say “mostly” ...)

However, I’ve always eyed grilled veggie recipes with a certain air of longing. Peppers stuffed with corn and pesto? Yum. Corn on the cob grilled in the husk? Sounds delicious. Marinated mushrooms and cherry tomatoes on skewers? Yes, please.

That responsibility to feed the rest of my family, however, means that I have few opportunities to try things that are to my taste alone ... and when I have them, I need to pounce on them. Quickly.

That happened one Saturday last month, when a stop at a Niagara County farm stand yielded not only the dozen ears of fresh corn that were the reason for the visit, but a little something extra: A container of brightly colored, miniature sweet peppers. “Great for stuffing!” a sign proclaimed. 

She who is buying makes the decisions. I nabbed them ...

And then wondered the rest of the way home what I would do with them. I didn’t even know what to stuff them with. Cheese? Bread crumbs? A friend uses sausage, but that really seemed to defeat the purpose.

Fortunately, the Internet came through with a multitude of opinions, as the Internet always does. I cobbled this one together from a variety of sources, depending on what I had on hand or could easily acquire. Many of them, for example, suggested stuffing the peppers with goat cheese or a 50/50 cream cheese/goat cheese mix, but that would require a special trip that wasn’t in the cards on a busy family Saturday night.

I also used a variety of tips from those recipes. One blogger used an egg carton to form her aluminum foil into a series of cups to hold her pepper upright. This worked nicely, although it all threatened to capsize when I needed to remove them. (A coordinated effort with tongs and oven mitts solved the problem.) The same recipe suggested replacing the tops on the peppers for grilling (alternating colors), which did look nice and helped keep the filling in, but isn’t even remotely necessary to the dish. 

I grilled them until they were visibly softening, with a little bit of char, but not too much. A few recipes suggested eating them at room temperature, but I found that they’re very good when still just a little warm. (Let them cool quite a bit, though, after they’re off the grill, if only for safety’s safe. Molten cream cheese

hurts

.)

When I make these again (and I will), I may go with the cream cheese/goat cheese mix because I like the stronger flavor the goat cheese imparts, and I think it would go well with the mild peppers. However, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with the cream cheese alone. (I also think feta cheese would be a good mix-in.)

If you want to bump up the flavor, you might want to try fresh herbs and even minced garlic, or maybe crisp, crumbled bacon if you’re not going the veggie route.

Grilled stuffed

mini sweet peppers

Miniature sweet peppers (The container I bought held 13.)

8 oz. cream cheese, room temperature (or 4 oz. cream cheese and 4 oz. goat cheese)

1-2 teaspoons garlic powder

pinch cayenne pepper

1-2 teaspoons herbs of choice (I used a mix including oregano, basil and thyme.)

Preheat grill to medium-high. Slice tops off peppers; clean up membranes and seeds. 

Form a piece of aluminum foil around an egg carton to form cups for the peppers. Remove egg carton.

Mix together room-temperature cream cheese, garlic powder, cayenne and herbs. Spoon into a plastic bag. Snip tip off bag; pipe mixture into peppers. Replace tops on peppers if desired.

Place pepper into foil cups, taking care to keep them mostly upright. Place foil on grill grate.

Grill for about 20 minutes on medium-high, until peppers are soft and just slightly charred. Remove and cool. They can be eaten slightly warm or at room temperature.

Jill Keppeler

is a writer for the Tonawanda News. She can be reached at jill.keppeler@tonawanda-news.com.

INSIDE Check out more tips for how to use and find local produce and other foods in our final installment of Locavore 101, PAGE 8C.