Local farmers are harvesting a significant quantity of fresh peppers from their fields.
It is now quite common to encounter an abundance of varieties, delivering flavors ranging from super sweet to super spicy, shapes from stumpy to elongated, and flesh walls from thick to thin.
Each variety of pepper delivers its individually unique properties that may be better suited for specific recipes, and experimenting with peppers as delicious as these can lead to some new meals your family will greatly enjoy.
This past weekend emerged the first sweet red, orange and yellow bell peppers of the year, along with a slew of Italian frying peppers, poblano peppers, jalapeños and serrano chilies.
Every summer and fall, one of my favorite peppers to enter the scene are those semi-spicy dark green poblano chilies, which deliver a medium heat level and very crisp finish. Often mistaken for pasilla peppers, poblano peppers are actually larger, making them perfect for stuffing. They also possess slightly thicker fleshed walls than pasilla peppers.
When poblano peppers are dried, they are then referred to as ancho chilies, perfect for adding great flavor to your slow-cooked meats, soups, and traditional Mexican-style sauces.
Most peppers are exceptional when eaten raw, whether in a salad on a sandwich, or used to dip into your favorite spread. But one of the best ways to enhance the peppers’ flavor and create a nice smooth texture is to blister them. This can be done over a stovetop burner, in the oven or most easily on the grill.
Roasting peppers are excellent when served over salads, on a sandwich, used to stuff or to convert into a flavorful sauce. This time of year, one of my favorite meals is a simple stuffed poblano pepper, topped with fresh salsa.
You can serve this with your favorite grilled meats or enjoy it all on its own. I will often garnish this dish with a dollop of sour cream and some sliced avocado.
Blistered Poblano Peppers with Cherry Tomato Salsa
4 poblano peppers
Corn kernels removed from 1 ear of grilled corn
One cup fresh chopped fresh cilantro
Salt and pepper to taste
1 cup jack cheese, or something similar
For the salsa:
1 basket cherry tomatoes (used mixed color baskets if available), cut in halves or quarters depending on the size.
1 quarter cup red onion, diced
½ cup fresh cilantro, chopped
Juice from 1 lemon or lime
½ jalapeño pepper, seeds and membrane discarded, finely diced (add more if desired to added heat)
Salt to taste
Toss all ingredients together until well incorporated. Set aside until ready to serve. Refrigerate if needed.
Turn your grill to medium-high heat and place peppers on the top rack. Cover and cook for a few minutes, then rotate peppers to their other side. Continue to cook until the peppers are well blistered on all sides.
Once cool enough to handle, peel away the blistered skin (you can use paper towels to rub away as well). Cut a slit down the side of the pepper and remove the seed cap within.
You can also discard the stem cap as well if desired since that portion is not edible.
In a mixing bowl, combine corn kernels, cilantro and cheese.
Place an equal amount in each of the peppers’ interior and close the peppers at the slit. Place in a baking dish and cook at 400 degrees for about 5-7 minutes, just enough time to warm them up and melt the cheese. Plate your peppers and top each with your cherry tomato salsa.
Yield: 4 peppers.