Land of Leftovers

With summer upon us and people everywhere firing up their grills, it's time to talk about the advantages of grilling some extra vegetables while you've got the grilling bug. Over the next few months, this column will focus on a few choice vegetables that can be added to your grilling fare whenever you fire up and then used in a variety of ways to add the flavor of the flame to your kitchen.

This month, we begin with one of my all-time favorites: red bell peppers. I try to toss at least one whole pepper onto the grill when I'm cooking other things. Why? Because it takes next to no effort, they store beautifully and can be used in a great many recipes, ranging from sublime sauces to simple sandwiches.

To grill a red bell pepper, poke it 3-4 times with a fork and position it near the edge of a grill that's been preheated to medium-high heat. Grill for about 20 minutes, turning at least once to make sure all sides are cooked. Remove it to a covered dish and allow it to steam for about 5 minutes. Using a sharp knife, cut the pepper in half, remove the stem and seeds, and pull off the charred skin. It's then ready to be further prepared any way you like it. I'm including a few of my favorite recipes using grilled peppers. Enjoy them.

As always, I encourage you to share your recipe ideas and comments. You can always post comments in the discussion board using the forms provided in the articles or email me directly at . Keep those creative juices flowing!

Grilled Pepper Salad

This quick side dish couldn't be easier. Just make sure that you have high quality oil and vinegar on hand for this one.
  • 2-3 grilled red bell peppers
  • 2-3 T. extra virgin olive oil
  • 2-3 T. balsamic vinegar
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Cut the peppers into bite-sized pieces. Add the oil, vinegar and seasonings and toss well to coat. Allow the salad to rest at room temperature for at least 5 minutes before serving. This salad makes a great accompaniment to grilled chicken or steaks.

  • Yields: 3 servings
  • Preparation Time: 10 minutes

Red Pepper Dip

This dip is especially easy if you have a food processor. If you don't, dice the pepper finely and add it to the other ingredients last.
  • 1 grilled red bell peppper, cut into small sections
  • 8 oz. low fat cream cheese
  • 2 oz. goat cheese
  • 2 T. chopped herbs (parsley, oregano, and basil make a nice blend)
  • 2 T. chopped chives

In a food processor, pulse the pepper, cheeses, and chopped herbs until a smooth consistency is obtained. Spoon the mixture into a bowl and garnish with the chopped chives. Serve with crackers, pita wedges, and bagel chips. It also makes a unique sandwich spread.

  • Yields: 1 1/2 cups
  • Preparation Time: 10 minutes

Pasta with Pepper Sauce

Making a smooth sauce from grilled peppers allows you to dress this pasta dish simply -- to allow the great flavor of the sauce to shine.
  • 3 grilled red bell peppers, cut into sections
  • 4 T. olive oil
  • 1 T. red wine vinegar
  • 1/2 c. packed fresh basil leaves
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 16 oz. penne pasta, cooked according to directions and drained
  • 1/4 c. shaved parmesan cheese

In a food processor, pulse the peppers, oil, vinegar and basil leaves until a smooth consistency is obtained. Transfer the mixture to a saucepan and heat until warm. Add the seasonings to taste.

Toss the sauce with the cooked pasta and transfer to individual serving bowls. Sprinkle with cheese and serve immediately.

  • Yields: 4 servings
  • Preparation Time: 20 minutes

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