….and so it begins. Summer is such a season of abundance. The garden over-produces and you’re looking at a counter laden with all these lovely vegetables. You’ve fried, you’ve grilled, you’ve eaten them raw, you’ve steamed them, you’ve added them to stir-fry’s. Hell, you’ve given them away to anyone that will take them—strangers on the street, the kid who mows your lawn, you’ve left them in the mail boxes of people you don’t even know. It’s gotten to the point where the neighbors are closing their blinds at the mere sight of your car on the street. It can get to be just that bad. We’re not going to even talk about zucchini here…you’re going to grate that and make a cake (that’s a later post), or jam, or “pasta” or simply grill it to perfection. We’re talking about bell peppers. You can do all those things I mentioned with bell peppers, and you will. But, there is one other thing you can do with bell peppers. You can roast them on the grill, pack them into containers or Zip-loc bags and freeze them. They’re fantastic. They’re beautiful. They’re delicious. It’s always so nice to have some harbingers of summer on your holiday table. And, it’s pretty simple to do. Oh yeah, you can eat them right away, too!
I was grilling a couple of burgers the other night, so I thought I’d just throw the peppers on too. At times, The Goddess is a model of efficiency. Now, if that damn basement would just clean itself, all would be right with the world. But, I digress; we’re talking about peppers here. I grill more, rather than less, as the grill is going, so why not have some for dinner tonight, that chopped salad for tomorrow’s dinner BBQ and a few for the freezer? As I said, this is pretty simple. It doesn’t heat the house up and once grilled, they need to rest for at least 30 minutes, but can stand for a couple of hours if that works better for your life.
I have a gas grill. If you have charcoal, that’s terrific and you’ll have a smokier roasted pepper. You need a hot grill. Very hot. If you haven’t done this before, the basic idea is that you’re going to char the entire exterior of the peppers, but without cooking them to mush. Simple, right? Place the peppers on the screaming hot grill and close the lid. They really are gorgeous, aren’t they? So you close the grill and come back about 4-5 minutes later, to this. Okay, the bun and burgers don’t magically appear like this! The Goddess is good, but so we’re clear here, the wand thing is Fairy Godmother stuff! Anyway, all grills have hot spots, areas of the grill that are hotter than other parts. Find the hot spots…it took me awhile. But, I finally did. You give the peppers a quarter turn, (I took the hamburgers off at this point) close the lid and come back to find more charred bits, when you quarter turn them yet again. Don’t forget, you also have to char the bottoms and the tops. Finally, when you return to the grill, bring a big, deep bowl or soup pot or paper bag with you. You need something you can seal, to keep the heat in. They can be crowded in the bowl. That’s fine. (The color under this light is kind of funky. They aren’t that pink.) Now cover them, go have dinner, and come back when the peppers are cool enough to handle. They will have collapsed slightly and you’ll be able to pull the stem and core right out.
What happens while you sup, is they are going to steam a bit, and the skins will pull right off. See! There will some liquid in the bottom. Save that pepper “juice”. It’s very tasty and why would you pitch it out? There are usually seeds and the peels mixed in with the “juice”, so I strain it over the pepper strips. Some people peel the peppers under running water or rinse them to remove seeds and bits of charred skin. That may be a slightly easier way to remove seeds and such, but you also remove flavor. Place the strips in a container, freezer bag or platter, if you wish. Now, it’s totally up to you what you’re going to do with them. For lunch I threw some strips on my hamburger.Tear up some fresh herbs, drizzle with good olive and balsamic, salt and pepper and you have a lovely antipasto. Toss on a few olives and it’s a great “salad”.
How simple is that, as The Barefoot Contessa might say?