Grilled Peppers with Saffron Vinaigrette

This makes for a good mini salad in a multi-course meal, or try it over crostini for an appetizer you can make ahead and keep in the fridge waiting for the moment to strike. It also just has a lot of yummy tips for how to best bring out the flavor in peppers, and the dressing is a fantastic addition to your repertoire. This recipe is from one of my favorite books: Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone (by Deborah Madison, which my family lovingly refers to as the family potluck bible. If you’re interested in canning those peppers from the market and save Summer for the coming Winter, check out this old time method.

Directions:

Grill and peel a selection of different-colored bell peppers (directions below), allowing 1/2 pepper per person. Be sure to reserve any juices that collect in the bowl while they’re steaming.  Slice the peppers into halves or quarters, scrape out the seeds, and layer the peppers on a platter. Make Saffron Vinaigrette with Basil (see recipe below), adding any reserved pepper juices. Toss the peppers with vinaigrette to moisten and serve garnished with sprigs of basil and Nicoise olives.

How to grill and peel peppers:

roasted peppersPlace whole peppers directly on a gas burner (on your stovetop) or on the grill. Roast the peppers until the skin becomes wrinkled and loose, turning them frequently with a pair of tongs. If you want the peppers to be soft and slightly smoky, roast them until the skins are completely charred. Set the peppers in a bowl, put a plate on top, and let them steam at least 15 minutes to loosen the skins.

If you wish to grill bell peppers without peeling them, slice off the top of the tip of the pepper, open it up, and remove the veins and seeds. Brush with olive oil and grill, skin side facing the fire, until the skins are puckery and lightly marked but not charred. Turn the grill on the second side for a few minutes, then remove and season with salt and pepper. Leave the peppers in large pieces or cut them into strips as desired.  Skinny peppers and chiles can be brushed with oil, grilled whole until just blistered, then sprinkled with salt.

Saffron Vinaigrette with Basil

For a saffron lover, this dressing will become a favorite. Use it with summer vegetables- roasted peppers and potatoes, grilled zucchini, tomato salads, grilled fennel. Or add finely diced tomatoes to the dressing and spoon it over grilled or roasted eggplants.

oil with saffronIn a bowl, combine 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice, 2 teaspoons snipped chives, 1/2 teaspoon grated or minced orange zest, 1/4 teaspoon of salt, and a few grinds of pepper. Warm 2 tablespoons of oil right over the heat in a small measuring cup, crumble in a pinch of saffron threads and let stand for a few minutes. Add this oil to the dressing and whisk in 6 more tablespoons of olive oil, Add 2 tablespoons of snipped or torn basil leaves just before using. Makes about 1/2 cup of dressing.

Corn on the Cob: 7 Flavorful Ways

Perfectly cooked grilled corn by Bobby Flay

  1. Heat the grill to medium.
  2. Pull the outer husks down the ear to the base. Strip away the silk from each ear of corn by hand. Fold husks back into place, and place the ears of corn in a large bowl of cold water with 1 tablespoon of salt for 10 minutes.
  3. Remove corn from water and shake off excess. Place the corn on the grill, close the cover and grill for 15 to 20 minutes, turning every 5 minutes, or until kernels are tender when pierced with a paring knife. Remove the husks and eat on the cob or remove the kernels.

 

Chili Lime Honey Butter
Mix 6 tablespoons softened butter, 1 tablespoon lime juice, 2 teaspoons of honey, 1 teaspoon chili powder and a dash of cayenne pepper in a small bowl. Slather on hot corn on the cob, then sprinkle on some salt and give it an extra spritz of lime.

Blue Cheese Chive Butter
Mash together 4 tablespoons softened butter with 4 tablespoons crumbled blue cheese. Stir in 2 tablespoons finely chopped chives and 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper. Spread on hot corn on the cob.

Herb Vinaigrette
In a small bowl, whisk together 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard, 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar, a hefty pinch of salt and black pepper, 3 tablespoons olive oil and 2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme. Drizzle over the corn.

Cheesy Cilantro Chili Pepper
Slather cooked corn with 1 tablespoon of butter, then sprinkle each cob with chili powder, cotija cheese, fresh chopped cilantro and finish with a spritz of lime juice

Smoked Feta and Pepper
Finely crumble 1/2 cup smoked feta cheese. Mix in 2 tablespoons finely chopped pickled jalapeno peppers. Coat each hot ear of corn with butter, then roll in the cheese and pepper mixture.

Honey Ginger BBQ Sauce
Combine 1 1/2 cups apple cider vinegar, 1/2 cup mild honey, 1/2 cup ketchup
1 1/2 tablespoons hot sauce, 4 large garlic cloves (minced), 2 tablespoons minced peeled ginger, and 1 teaspoon salt and briskly simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until thickened and reduced to about 1 1/4 cups, 25 to 30 minutes. (Stir frequently toward end of cooking to prevent sticking.) This is an excellent BBQ sauce, but keep going with the corn on the cob recipe by brushing the mixture onto the cobs just 1 or 2 minutes before they’re done on the grill. Oil the grill beforehand and it shouldn’t stick.

Jerk Grilled
Whisk together 1 tablespoon water and 2 tablespoons molasses. Using a pastry brush, lightly coat 4 ears of corn with the molasses mixture. Sprinkle all over with purchased or homemade jerk seasoning. Grill over indirect heat on well-oiled grates until tender.