Smoke-Roasted Bell Peppers Stuffed with Garden Vegetables
This is one of the most colorful dishes that will ever grace your grill. Orange, yellow, red, and green bell peppers are stuffed with golden corn kernels, red tomatoes, green zucchini, and chopped fresh herbs. Breadcrumbs hold the filling together and develop a lightly toasted top crust as the stuffed peppers are grill-roasted via indirect heat. A few handfuls of wood chips infuse the vegetables with a subtle, smoky aroma.
Gas: Indirect heat—medium (325º to 350ºF)
3- or 4-burner grill—middle burner(s) off
2-burner grill—1 side off
Clean, oiled grate
Charcoal: Indirect heat—medium ash
Split charcoal bed (about 2 dozen coals per side)
Clean, oiled grate on medium setting
Grill Tools and Equipment
2 cups apple or oak wood chips or chunks
Smoker box or foil packet, if using a gas grill (see page 000)
Long-handled tongs or long-handled spatula
Soak wood chips: 1 hour
Prep: 25 minutes
Grill: 20 to 30 minutes
Makes 8 small servings
2 medium red bell peppers
3 medium mixed bell peppers (yellow, orange, green)
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
3 tablespoons butter
1 onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 medium zucchini, cut into 1/4-inch dice
1 medium yellow squash, cut into 1/4-inch dice
2 cups fresh or frozen corn kernels
1 medium tomato, seeded and cut into 1/4-inch dice
2 tablespoons chopped fresh herbs (such as parsley, oregano, basil, or a mix)
1/4 cup plain dry breadcrumbs
Oil for coating grill grate
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese (optional)
1. Heat the grill as directed above. Soak the wood chips or chunks in water for 1 hour.
2. Seed, core, and cut one of the red bell peppers into 1/4-inch dice. Cut the remaining bell peppers in half lengthwise right through the stem, leaving a bit of stem attached to each half. Cut out the cores, seeds, and ribs from the interiors of the peppers, leaving the stem intact. Sprinkle the insides of the peppers with about 1/4 teaspoon of the salt and 1/4 teaspoon of the pepper.
3. Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and sauté until almost tender, about 4 minutes. Add the garlic, chopped bell pepper, zucchini, and yellow squash. Sauté the vegetables until crisp-tender, about 4 minutes. Stir in the corn and tomato and cook until heated through, 1 to 2 minutes. Stir in herbs, breadcrumbs, and the remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Cook and stir until the breadcrumbs soak up most of the liquid in the pan. Remove from the heat and spoon the filling equally into the pepper cavities.
4. When the grill is hot, put the soaked wood chips or chunks over the coals on both sides of the grill. If using gas, put the wood in a smoker box or in a perforated foil packet directly over one of the heated burners.
5. Brush the grill grate and coat it with oil. Put the stuffed peppers over the unheated part of the grill, cover, and cook until just tender, 20 to 30 minutes. If your grill has a temperature gauge, it should stay at around 350°F.
6. Remove the peppers to a large serving platter. Sprinkle with the Parmesan, if using.
Getting Creative: Shaved ricotta salata cheese makes a good alternative to the Parmesan.
* For 2 cups fresh corn kernels, you'll need 3 to 4 ears of corn. Remove the husks and silks, then stand the cobs upright on a cutting board with the fat end down. Cut straight downward all around the cob, cutting the kernels from the cob. For extra flavor, use the dull side of your knife blade to scrape the remaining corn and juices or "milk" from the cobs.
* Use a melon baller to quickly scrape the ribs from the bell peppers.
* Save time (but sacrifice some flavor) by replacing the breadcrumbs, herbs, salt, and pepper in the stuffing with seasoned dried breadcrumbs.