Italian Sausage Stuffed Mini Peppers

I was given a pepper roasting rack some years back as a Christmas gift.  And over those years, I’ve perfected this recipe for grilled sweet peppers stuffed with a spicy Italian filling.  Delicious as a football-watching snack and pretty enough as an appetizer to bring to a dinner party.  Try making these for your Super Bowl party tomorrow!  And if you don’t have a special rack, you can use foil to fashion a checkerboard in the same shape to hold these upright on your grill.

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ITALIAN SAUSAGE STUFFED MINI PEPPERS

Ingredients

  • 24 Assorted Mini Sweet Peppers (most groceries sell them by the bag now)
  • 8 Ounces Sweet Italian Sausage
  • 1 Clove Garlic, Minced
  • 1/4 Cup Grated Parmesan Cheese
  • 1 Tsp. Dried Oregano
  • 1/2 Tsp. Red Pepper Flakes (optional)

Instructions

  • Wash and dry the peppers.  Cut off tops and use a paring knife to remove any seeds and white membranes from inside.  Set aside.
  • In a medium bowl, combine sausage (without casing), garlic, oregano, cheese and pepper flakes.
  • Using a small spoon or your fingers, stuff each pepper with the sausage mixture.  Only fill each pepper just to the top and don’t pack it too tight.  The filling will expand when it cooks.
  • Place peppers in your specialty rack or foil grid so that they are standing upright.
  • Grill over low heat for 25-30 minutes.  Peppers will be roasted, blistered and soft while the filling should expand and brown on top.
  • Remove from grill and serve immediately.

Grab yourself an IPA, cocktail or glass of cabernet and savor these salty sweet bites.  I guarantee that you’ll make these a staple snack for the big game or family functions.  And make the small investment in the pepper rack, it’s totally worth the purchase to make this recipe as well as grilled jalapeño poppers!  Dig in!

Quick Pickled Veggies

We wait and wait all year for our gardens to mature and the farmers markets to yield summer’s biggest bounty and then all of sudden – it’s time!!  It only lasts a little while in our part of the country and we have to take advantage of all the fresh produce while we can.  When you have a ton of veggies, try making quick pickles for a twist on grilled, baked, broiled, fried and sautéed garden treats!  There’s endless possibilities and a super easy process for you to start from.  Below are three of my favorites – the ingredients are slightly different for each, but the process is exactly the same for all three.

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SWEET PICKLED ONIONS & RADISHES

Ingredients

  • 1/2 Large Sweet Onion Sliced
  • 8 Radishes – 1/4 Inch Slices
  • 1 1/2 Cups White Vinegar
  • 1/2 Cup Water
  • 1/2 Cup Sugar
  • 1/2 Tsp Red Pepper Flakes
  • 2 Tsp Pickling Spices

GARLIC DILL PICKLES

Ingredients

  • 8 Small Cucumbers – 1/2 Inch Slices
  • 1 Cup White Vinegar
  • 1 1/2 Cups Water
  • 4 Large Cloves Garlic, Peeled & Slightly Crushed
  • 1 Small Bunch Fresh Dill
  • 1 Tsp Sugar
  • 1 Tbs Kosher Salt
  • 1/2 Tsp Red Pepper Flakes

PICKLED BANANA & SERRANO PEPPERS

Ingredients

  • 6 Banana Peppers – 1/2 Inch Slices
  • 8 Serrano Peppers – 1/2 Inch Slices
  • 1 1/2 Cups White Vinegar
  • 1 Cup Water
  • 2 Tsp Sugar
  • 1 Tbs Kosher Salt
  • 1 Tsp Pickling Spices

Instructions (For All 3 Varieties)

  • Place sliced vegetables into a wide-mouth quart-size canning jar or similar container.
  • In a small saucepan, combine remaining ingredients and bring to a boil.  Salt and sugar should be dissolved and you’ll smell the spices.
  • Allow mixture to cool slightly – about 10 minutes.  Then pour mixture over veggies in the jar.
  • If there is not enough liquid to cover veggies, add a few ice cubes to fill the rest of the space.  It will also help with the cooling process.
  • Allow jars to cool for 20 minutes.  Then screw on lids and place in the refridgerator for at least 24 hours.
  • Eat and enjoy for up to two weeks.

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Again, this process is basic and easy to execute.  You can buy pickling spice in several markets, but I love the mixture from Penzey’s Spices.  Click on the link to check it out along with their huge selection.  Can’t find pickling spice?  Try using a combination of bay leaf, mustard seed, coriander seed, cinnamon, allspice, star anise, peppercorns, and cardamom.  As I said before, you can use all kinds of flavor combinations depending on your preference.  Some of you will probably want more salt in each of these recipes, but give it a try and let me know how it goes.

These recipes are great for veggies to top your salads, on sandwiches or as accompaniments to a great charcuterie and cheese plate.  Heck, just snack on them with a few cold beers – how could you go wrong??  Good luck, enjoy summer’s bounty and happy pickling!!