Poblano chiles ready for roasting.By Clifford A. Wright
Summer is the height of chile season, when the huge variety of hot, spicy, sweet veggies are ripe and ready throughout most of the country. There are chiles of nearly every color and hotness for almost everyone.
Even if you're not a chile head, as chile lovers call themselves, now is the perfect time to experiment with some simple seasonal chile recipes.
Habanero snack: If you're pressed for time, try a quick snack: grill a corn tortilla slightly over a burner, arrange thin slivers of habanero chile in the center, squirt with lemon or lime juice, season with sea salt and roll up while hot and eat. This I'm addicted to.
Chile-stuffed peppers: If you're looking for something a little more substantial, try chile- and tomato-stuffed roasted bell peppers. You can use an uvilla grande chile (Capsicum chinense) or habanero pepper. This is a perfect summer dish; I'd make it now.
You should choose fleshy chiles and to leave the membranes if you want it even more piquant. You can serve the stuffed roasted chiles on top of a toasted slice of French country bread rubbed with a cut garlic clove; it will catch all the delicious juices.
Leftover roasted chili appetizers: Leftovers can be placed on top of toast points and served as an appetizer or wrapped in corn tortilla and heated.
CHILE- AND TOMATO-STUFFED ROASTED BELL PEPPERS
Makes 6 servings
2 poblano chiles (about ½ pound)
1 habanero chile or uvilla grande chile, seeds and membranes remove, thinly sliced
3 New Mexico chiles (½ pound), seeded and coarsely chopped
2 large jalapeño chiles, seeded and chopped
¾ pound mixed color cherry tomatoes, large ones cut in half
4 scallions, trimmed, white and green parts chopped
½ cup halved and pitted black Kalamata olives
1 tablespoon salted capers, rinsed
2 large garlic cloves, finely chopped
¼ cup chopped or snipped fresh basil leaves
5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
Freshly ground black pepper
4 green bell peppers, split lengthwise, seeded
1. Preheat the oven to 425 F.
2. Place the poblano chiles over a burner and blister the skins until black, turning with tongs. Place them in a plastic bag to steam for 20 minutes, which will help rub off the skin. Rub the skin and seeds off with a paper towel. Chop coarsely.
3. In a bowl, toss the roasted poblano chiles, habanero chile, New Mexico chiles, jalapeño chiles, cherry tomatoes, scallions, olives, capers, garlic, basil, olive oil, vinegar, and salt and pepper. Squeeze and toss everything with your hands, which will mingle the flavors better than tossing with a spoon.
4. Arrange the bell peppers in a baking casserole. Season the cavity with salt and pepper. Stuff them with the chile-tomato mixture. Cover the casserole tightly with aluminum foil and bake for 50 minutes. Remove the foil and continue baking until the mixture is bubbling and parts of the exposed chiles are turning black, 10 to 15 minutes more. Serve hot or warm.
Zester Daily contributor Clifford A. Wright won the James Beard / KitchenAid Cookbook of the Year Award and the James Beard Award for the Best Writing on Food in 2000 for "A Mediterranean Feast." His latest book is "Hot & Cheesy" (Wiley) about cooking with cheese.
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