Saturday, July 9, 2011

Grilled Baby Peppers (for Wine and Cheese Date Night)

Recently, my husband and I were afforded the blessed, rare opportunity to have a date night. With two little boys and no relatives living close by, we find that our alone time is pretty sparse these days. But the kids were off for a few days with their grandparents, so we decided to have a fun date night where we pretended we were sophisticated and know how to pair wines with cheeses. Silly us!

I went all out for this meal. I was inspired by some meals we have had at restaurants in the St. Louis area, where we always seem to order the assorted cheese plates. What can I say, we love our assorted cheese plates. They usually come with some type of dried fruit, some nuts, some olives, or some cured meats. Well, I figured I would just serve all of these!

We had golden raisins, green grapes, dried cranberries, and dried apricots. We had cashews and marcona almonds. We had a wide assortment of olives that I picked up from the olive bar at Whole Foods (which may be my new favorite section of the store!). We had pita bread, toasted wheat bread, and hummus. We had so much food I was a little overwhelmed by it all!

I went to a fancy cheese store that afternoon, and they were very helpful there. They let me sample pretty much any and every cheese I glanced at. I wanted a good variety, and there was so much to choose from. I settled on a Muenster, some Gouda, some Gruyere, a nice Manchego (which is a hard cheese, like Parmigiano), a bit of Camembert (that was my fave), and some super duper stinky blue cheese called Morbier. To go along with it, I picked up some spicy Spanish chorizo from the same store.

We lined up four different types of wine (two reds, two whites) and tried to pair up the various cheeses with the corresponding wines. In some cases, we were shocked at how beautifully it all worked. In other cases, though, it just didn't work out. We still had a blast trying to figure stuff out. It's not something we're likely to do every day, but it was great for a staying-in date! And I would imagine it was at least marginally less expensive than going out.

Now, because none of my blog entries seems complete without some kind of recipe, I will share with you the absurdly simply recipe for the baby bell peppers I served with this meal. I found it in Food Network Magazine, and it seemed like something that would go well with everything else we had that evening. It's a snap, and so very pretty!

Grilled Baby Peppers
adapted from Food Network Magazine
makes 4 servings

1 lb. baby bell peppers (or quartered full-size peppers)
1 Tbsp. olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Chopped fresh mint, to taste
1/2 lemon, juiced
1/4-1/2 cup feta, crumbled

1. Preheat a grill pan to high. Toss the peppers with the olive oil, salt, and pepper. Throw them on the grill pan and cook for about 10 minutes, turning frequently, until blistered on all sides.

2. Remove the peppers from the grill pan and place on a serving dish. Sprinkle the mint over the peppers, along with the juice of the 1/2 a lemon and the feta. Toss lightly, and serve.

1 comment:

  1. A date night at home sounds delightful. I love the idea of trying to match your own wine pairings! I'm definitely going to try something like this soon!