Wednesday, July 27, 2011
Gypsy peppers stuffed with roasted corn, manchego and queso fresco
I have two pounds, yes TWO pounds, of gypsy peppers and I am racking my brain trying to think of ways to use them. And more peppers are on the way! It is a bit ridiculous to think about the amount of peppers and corn we have consumed in the past month. One of my go-to favorites for gypsy peppers is this Indian spiced pepper dish. More recently we have been experimenting with stuffed gypsy peppers!
But first a moment for shameless self-promotion: check out my entry on food52 in the best chili pepper recipe category!
Unlike thicker skinned peppers, like poblano peppers, that need to be grilled and then have the skins removed, smaller, thinner skinned peppers, like gypsy peppers, are best when sliced thinly and eaten raw in a salad or sauteed lightly in olive oil. Gypsy peppers have an intense sweetness and complex flavor and change colors through the season; in early summer the peppers are light green and as summer progresses, the peppers develop into a fiery orange and then a deep red.
So far we thinly sliced the peppers and used them as a pizza topping along with green bell peppers and onions and used them in panzanella with heirloom tomatoes, cucumber, green bell pepper, yellow gypsy peppers, roasted corn, red onions, capers, and basil. If you haven't made panzanella yet this summer, you must do so immediately as I cannot think of a better summer night meal! Those who have eaten panzanella with us this summer claim to still dream about the juicy tomatoes and gorgeous summer flavors!
Since gypsy peppers have a thin wall, they are supposedly great for stuffing and roasting, but I'm just not a fan of stuffed vegetables. I suppose that, in the past, I had one too many dinners where the vegetarian main course was a tasteless, overcooked bell pepper or squash stuffed with something terribly bland and mushy.
I came across an article in SF Gate discussing gypsy peppers and was inspired by a recipe in the article from Downtown restaurant chef David Stevenson: gypsy peppers stuffed manchego cheese and corn. The stuffing seemed to be flavorful and well seasoned, so I decided to give stuffed peppers one more chance.
The result was pretty phenomenal: the peppers held up well without falling apart or becoming mushy and the flavor-packed stuffing cooked nicely. The saltiness of the manchego contrasted nicely with the sweetness of the peppers and the fresh sweet corn and queso fresco added a nice texture. Overall the complex flavors melded together nicely to form a well-balanced and fabulously tasty dish.
I think stuffed peppers and I could become good friends after all. In fact I cannot wait until I get the next batch of gypsy peppers to make this dish again!
Note: I recently made a variation of these gypsy peppers where I stuffed the peppers with farro sauteed with red onion and garlic, shredded smoked mozzarella, and pepper jack cheese. It was so very delicious!
Stuffed gypsy peppers with roasted corn, manchego and queso fresco
1/2 cup red onion, diced
1 cup fresh corn kernels (about 1 ear)
1-2 cloves of garlic, minced
2 tbsp olive oil
1/2 cup manchego grated
1/4 cup queso fresco, crumbled
4 gypsy peppers
Preheat the oven to 350. Lightly oil a small baking dish. Heat a large cast iron skillet over medium-high heat until very hot.
Shuck the corn. In a medium bowl, toss the corn with 1 tsp of olive oil and sprinkle with sea salt. Spread the corn in the hot skillet and let it roast without stirring for about 1 minute. Give the corn a quick stir or two and remove from the pan.
In the same pan, heat 2 tbsp of olive oil. Add the red onion and garlic, cook until soft. Season well with sea salt and pepper. Let cool and combine with the roasted corn, add grated manchego and crumbled queso fresco. Taste and adjust seasoning as needed.
Cut the tops off the peppers and remove the seeds and membranes. Fill each pepper with the corn mixture, pushing gently as you stuff. Rub the peppers with olive oil and place in baking dish.
Roast for 25-30 minutes, until the peppers soften and collapse.