My friend Brian farms about three acres every year to grow vegetables he sells at the farmers market. In addition to the standard vegetables, he always has something a little unique such as the Giant Marconi peppers he has every August. These peppers are perfect for making Grill-Roasted Stuffed Peppers.
The Giant Marconi is an Italian sweet pepper. We find the taste a little sweeter than the standard bell peppers and the meaty shell holds its shape on the grill. This pepper is a little odd-shaped – elongated and not straight. When I cut these in half for stuffing and grill-roasting, each half usually holds about four ounces of filling.
A great veggie-heavy meal includes Grill-Roasted Stuffed Peppers, fresh sweet corn on the cob and a simple salad and serves six. I usually have a little of the filling left over and add that to potatoes the next day for breakfast burritos.
Grill-Roasted Stuffed Peppers
3 Giant Marconi Peppers (or other elongated pepper)
1 pound lean, ground Italian sausage
1 cup diced fresh tomatoes
1 medium sweet onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
Half of one leek, diced
Half of one shallot, minced
1 cup rice such as Basmati, Jasmine or a long-grain blend
2 cups warm water
2 Tablespoons beef soup base
6 ounces shredded cheese – any flavor will work, but I use a combination of artisan cheeses such as a roasted red-pepper Monterrey Jack and an aged Habanero-Monterrey Jack.
After cleaning the peppers, slice in half lengthwise from stem to end (do not remove the stem). The shape of the pepper will have two sides that are more flat, and these will be the base. This helps the peppers “stand” more easily on the grill. Remove the seeds from the cavity and discard.
In a large, heavy skillet over medium heat, brown the Italian sausage, crumbling it as it cooks. When the sausage begins to turn grey, add the fresh tomatoes, sweet onion, garlic, leek and shallot. Stir well and sauté for 3-4 minutes until the tomatoes start to release their juice and you begin to smell the aromatics.
Add the rice to the skillet mixture and stir well. Combine the warm water and beef base, then pour into the skillet and stir well. Bring the mixture to a boil, cover, reduce the heat to simmer and cook slowly for about 15 minutes, until the rice is cooked.
Preheat your grill while the sausage-rice mixture is simmering. If you use charcoal, you may need to start it a little earlier. The grill should be heated to medium to medium-high.
After the sausage-rice mixture is cooked and the grill is preheating, stuff the peppers. Using a spoon, carefully fill each pepper cavity with the mixture. Be sure to press the filling into the nooks and crannies, but don’t pack the filling in.
Place the stuffed peppers on the grill grate, arranging so that the peppers don’t fall over. Roast until the peppers are slightly charred, but not cooked to mush. They should still have some bit of crispness.
Sprinkle the peppers with shredded cheese and allow it to melt for about one minute before removing from the grill.
A Note About Beef Base: Chef Benjamin Daymon has written a review about the “Better Than Bouillon” line of soup bases. This product is widely available in the US and my favorite highlights are lower sodium and an organic line of soup bases.