I have come to the conclusion that late summer produce is the sexiest of all the produce.
Unlike their bright and cheerful spring cousins, late summer fruits and vegetables have spent months carefully maturing. They linger on their vines and branches swelling throughout the intense heat of midsummer. Their flavors become fuller, more concentrated, while we enjoy a relationship with far less commitment to things like flirty strawberries and endearing petite peas.
Late summer fruits require eaters to take more time. Thought must be taken as to where and when we can pause long enough to savor peaches and nectarines engorged with juices that will fill the mouth and stream down bare arms. Jealous tomatoes angrily spew their seeds back at anyone who treats them too carelessly. And peppers. Oh Peppers. At first crisp and bitter under the stare of amber sun they slowly soften turning sweeter while simultaneously increasing in fiery intensity. Yes. Yes! These are the sexiest of all the foods.
All these foods can speak for themselves. Bring them into your kitchen and treat them simply. Let them overwhelm your senses the way nature intended.
Fire Roasted Relish
This is a mildly spicy sweet leaning relish that can be used as a condiment with grilled meats, on sandwiches or burgers, and anywhere you want a fresh burst of flavor. Choose the heat level of chilies that suit your pallet. The vitamin content is high and the calorie load is negligible so heap it on.
Makes approximately 1 pint of relish.
- A heap of Hatch Chilies (I used about 7 smallish mild heat and 5 larger medium heat)
- 1-2 large Red Bell Peppers
- 1-2 large slicing tomatoes
- 1/2 – 3/4 teaspoon salt (coarse Kosher salt recommended)
- Get your grill blazing hot, around 500 degrees, and arrange your peppers and tomatoes so there is space for the heat to circulate around them. Lower the grill cover but check frequently.
- The skins will begin to blister and crack. Turn them every few minutes until the outsides have fully blistered and charred.
- Remove as they finish roasting and place into one or more plastic bags with the tops twisted or zipped shut. Allow the roasted peppers and tomatoes to steam in the bag for at least 10 minutes. This loosens the charred skin from the soft flesh.
- After 10 minutes and have passed and they are cool to the touch; peel away the tough outer skin.
- Be cautious handling the chilies as the chemical that makes them taste spicy may irritate skin and care should be taken to keep it away from your eyes.
- Carefully slice peppers so the seeds may be mostly scraped away. Leaving some seeds will give your relish a bit more of a kick.
- Once the desired amount of seeds are removed, chop the bell pepper and the chilies into 1/2 inch or smaller squares.
- Chop the tomato until it looks more mashed than chopped. This is the saucy bit that holds the peppers together.
- Combine all three chopped ingredients in a jar, top with salt, cover, then shake to mix. Eat immediately or refrigerate to be used within 7 days.
This article gives a slightly more complete how-to for roasting peppers.
Portobello Chili Cheese Burger
If you find yourself craving something thick and juicy between two buns – skip the meat and sink your teeth into this bad boy.
- Get your hands on some thick meaty Portobello mushrooms. Trim the stumps and soak them in your favorite steak marinade. (I used 1/2 c. Garlic Expressions and 1/4 c. Worcestershire Sauce) Leave 30 minutes up to several hours.
- Grill the Portobellos over high heat until the juices bubble and they have those fantastic char marks on both sides. Finish by melting a slice of your favorite gooey cheese over each top (Monterey Jack).
- While the cheese melts toast up some hearty buns. Go ahead and splurge on the bread quality for this burger and pick something that is a treat – there aren’t many calories in the other components.
- Heap some Fire Roasted Relish onto the bottom bun and let the cheese from the mushroom ooze into the top bun.
Close your eyes, open wide, and enjoy the full flavor action. A toasty crunch, a meaty chew, a peppery warmth in the back of your throat. Oh baby! I’ll have what I’m having!