Grilled Veg 10 - Peppers (Bell)
Red, Yellow, Green - On Zee Grill
Previously we showed how grilled peppers can be combined with grilled zucchini to make something delicious. Here we are going to focus on the peppers themselves and end up with something traditional and delicious.
First a little about bell peppers, also known (sometimes) as sweet peppers. They were originally endemic to the New World, like the potato and the tomato. Here's the big news, though: They are not peppers. They are not vegetables. They are not sweet. They do not look like bells.
Christopher Columbus himself misnamed them "peppers" (pimiento) after the Indian black pepper species -- he was looking for India, after all, was he not? Botanically, they are fruits, not vegetables (tomatoes are similarly misclassified, according to the botanists, not the agriculturists). And of course "sweet" is only used to mean they are not hot like chilies. And do the peppers shown here look like bells?
Despite all this, or maybe because of it, they are perfectly suited for the grill and in fact are great on the grill. The flames clear out all the confusions. Here we managed to find, to go with the red, a yellow bell pepper that had not fully changed color from yellow to green (or green to yellow, depending on the direction is is headed) -- two for one, you might say.
Here's that other New Worlder, the potato: Potato Story.
Here are the peppers with zucchini: Zucc.
Looking good on grill
Colorful, no? The sight of something beautiful like this must have an impact on our perception of taste, when we have come to the end of the steps here and are cutting into beautiful, colorful, peppers.
We cut them in half lengthwise. We removed the seed core inside.
We added a little EVOO, very little. (For EVOO, click here).
More will come later.
This is after about four minutes on a preheated grill. You do preheat your grill do you not?
We want the peppers to be grilled, of course, but we also want them to retain the characteristic crunchiness, or bite, of the pepper they once were before we grilled them.
Because the peppers, cut lengthwise, are fairly flat, they are ideal for the grill. Everything cooks evenly. Easy to grasp and to turn with the tongs. I have to say that I prefer simple things, and grilling these peppers is a thing like that.
We are going to leave them on the grill for another four minutes on this side.
Ready to be taken off of the grill.
The blackened portions of the skin are easily flaked off. I suppose that some people will go to great lengths to remove these, but that really isn't necessary. I remove very few, and have done thus for a very long time, because the flakes add to something that could perhaps be dubbed the "authenticity" of the grilled vegetable and because they add a bit of flavor.
We remove them to a cutting board.
Special and delicious
On the aforementioned cutting board, we cut each pepper half into thin strips using a large, sharp chef's knife.
This produces a jumble of strips that are attractive and of interest even before we put all of them into a bowl. We dress this jumble with EVOO (the olive oil is terrific here) and red wine vinegar (balsamic would also, of course, be good). Also coarse ground salt and coarse ground black pepper -- lots of pepper, in my view. For EVOO, click here.
The aroma is terrific, and the taste is even better.
Decorating a salad
Here we have used the strips to grace a salad composed of
- Romaine lettuce (posses a delightfully crispness, matching that of the peppers)
- grilled flank steak (we are turning this into the main course)
- marinated artichoke hearts (delightful way to approach artichokes)
- Kalamata olives (very traditional, but really any olive works here), and
- feta cheese (adds a delicious and distinctive saltiness)
Our precious sliced, grilled peppers add something both substantive (in terms of texture and taste) to these delicious items already in the bowl and something visually appealing. Who could resist digging into a salad like this?
Hard to believe, and you might have trouble finding them, but there are bell peppers that are chocolate, vanilla, or purple in color. Actually, I think that these colors might not be quite right for the salad we have here (except maybe the purple). At any rate, it is interesting to learn that bell peppers originated in the New World. (What a culinary find that New World was!)
New World they may be, but China has taken them to its heart and grows the most of any country, way way the most. Nutritionally, bells contain small percentages of the recommended daily amounts of an amazing number of vitamins and minerals. What's not to like? One of the more interesting facts I encountered in researching bell peppers is that the very popular wine varietal, Cabernet sauvignon, sometimes contains a note of bell pepper flavor, especially if the grapes were not fully ripened when harvested. The aroma of the pepper comes from a chemical called pyrazine which is also present in the cabernet grape. A friend tells me that the bell pepper note is wrung most strongly in Sauvignon blancs from New Zealand.
Part of a series
Series within series, actually. Food & Cooking, for example, then -- within that -- series on vegetables, fruits, seafood, meat, etc. Books, too. Ideas, too. Travel, too. Key virtues:. pictures, clear step-by-step text. Delicious -- whether foods or ideas! All of the series, and all of the items in each series, can be found at this link: Lee White's Department Store
Real Meal. Unlike fancy food mags, where images are hyped and food itself is secondary, all pix shown here are from a real meal, prepared and eaten by me and my friends. No throwing anything away till perfection is achieved. This is the real deal --- a Real Meal.