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Grilled Mediterranean Stuffed Peppers

April 28, 2016 Appetizer No Comments

I first made this recipe as an appetizer for our family’s Easter dinner. I had wanted to somehow get lamb onto the holiday menu, and decided that ground lamb would be the easiest solution. After seasoning and browning the lamb with classic Mediterranean flavors (mint, thyme, rosemary, Italian seasoning and feta cheese), I used the mixture as a stuffing for miniature sweet peppers. The stuffed peppers were baked and were a huge hit, but I knew that they would be even better grilled.

After getting my grill up and running this past weekend, I wasted no time firing up the stuffed peppers over an open flame. The peppers softened and blistered beautifully, making this dish even better than the first go! You can substitute the ground lamb with ground beef, turkey or sausage if you wish. But if you are looking for a true Mediterranean flavor, give the ground lamb a try. It makes for a perfect outdoor grilled appetizer.

 

Grilled Mediterranean Stuffed Peppers

8 oz ground lamb (you can substitute other ground meats if you wish)
2 shallots, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tbspn olive oil
2 tsp fresh mint, finely chopped
1 tspn fresh thyme
1 tspn rosemary, finely chopped (I prefer to use ground rosemary)
1/2 tsp Italian seasoning
Salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup crumbled feta (plain or flavored variety will work well)
1 dozen miniature sweet bell peppers

Heat olive oil in a large frying pan over medium heat. Add shallots, stir. Cook until softened and fragrant, about 3-5 minutes. Add garlic, stir. Cook for 1 minute. Add ground lamb, mint, thyme, rosemary and Italian seasoning. Stir together. Cook until the lamb is fully browned, stirring occasionally. Once browned, drain excess oil, place ground meat into a bowl. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Stir in feta cheese. Set aside to cool.

Slice off the top of the peppers, remove seeds and stems. Once the ground lamb is cooled, stuff each pepper with the stuffing mixture. Be sure to pack each pepper tightly.

Preheat your grill, making sure to lightly oil the grates. Once heated, carefully lay each pepper onto the grate over direct heat. Cook for about 15-20 minutes, carefully flipping occasionally, so that the peppers are evenly cooked on each side. Once the peppers are softened and slightly blistered, carefully remove and plate.

Serve immediately.

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Multi-colored mini sweet bell peppers.

 

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The cooked ground lamb, mixed with feta cheese.

 

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Prepping the peppers.

 

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Stuffing the peppers. Be sure to pack them tight.

 

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Cook the peppers over direct heat, until the peppers are softened and blistered.

 

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Ready to serve!

If you choose to bake the stuffed peppers instead of grilling, simply place the peppers on a baking sheet into an oven at 350˚ for 20-25 minutes, until peppers are softened.

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Grilled Chicken Italiano

June 30, 2015 Entrees, Menu No Comments

Growing up in South Philadelphia, I have enjoyed more than my share of delicious and delectable sandwiches. While cheesesteaks, hoagies and roast pork sandwiches rank among highest on most Philadelphians’ lists, my all time favorite ‘sang-weech’ is the classic Chicken Italiano. Seasoned chicken breast, broccoli rabe, prosciutto and provolone packed in a crispy Italian roll…what is there not to love? Now I do realize that there are different variations of a Chicken Italiano, using other ingredients such as peppers, mozzarella and sun dried tomatoes. But the prosciutto, provolone and rabe combination is the version that I fell in love with. For this post, I would like to share with you my grilled version of this amazing combination….a perfect dish for any summer cook-out!

This grilled version does differ just a bit from the classic sandwich. First, while broccoli rabe is one of my all-time favorite greens, I decided instead to use a home made basil-mint pesto. My garden is overloaded with fresh basil and mint, so I figured it would be a great opportunity to put both to good use. Of course, you can stick with the traditional broccoli rabe if you prefer. I also like to prepare and serve the chicken breasts whole. You can cut the chicken breasts into smaller pieces to serve in a sandwich if you like, but I find that cooking and serving the chicken breasts whole allows for prosciutto, provolone and pesto (or rabe) to melt evenly on top.

You’ll want to marinate the chicken breasts for a good two to four hours before grilling. You can find a good, basic lemon and garlic marinade by clicking here. You can also used a bottled marinade of your choice, but I would stick to a basic garlic, lemon or white wine flavored marinade. There are too many good tastes happening with this dish, so you don’t want to overpower the chicken with an strong-flavored marinade.

Grilled Chicken Italiano

4-6 boneless and skinless chicken breasts
4-6 slices prosciutto
4-6 slices provolone cheese
*Basic lemon-garlic marinade (see recipe below) or 1 bottle marinade (any combination of garlic, lemon and white wine will work)
**Fresh basil-mint pesto (see recipe below)

Pierce chicken breasts with a fork to allow marinade to soak in. Place chicken breasts in a plastic bag, pour marinade into bag, making sure that all of the chicken breasts are well coated. Refrigerate for two to four hours.

Pre-heat your grill to high. Make sure that your grill grates are brushed with oil to avoid sticking. Reduce heat to medium-high, and place the chicken on the grill, discarding the bag with the used marinade. Keep lid closed. Turn chicken occasionally, until browned and done. Top the chicken breasts with a dollop of the pesto, a slice of provolone and a slice of prosciutto. Allow to heat for another few minutes until the cheese starts to melt and the prosciutto starts to slightly crisp. Remove from grill, serve and enjoy!

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*Lemon-Garlic Marinade
Adapted from food.com

2 cloves garlic, minced
4 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
3 tablespoons lemon juice, fresh preferred
1⁄8 teaspoon pepper

Combine all ingredients together to pour over chicken.

Note – this recipe’s measurements are for 1-1.5 lbs of chicken breasts. You may need to increase the ingredients for the amount of chicken breasts that you are making.

**Fresh Basil-Mint Pesto
Adapted from simplyrecipes.com

1 cup fresh basil leaves, packed
1 cup fresh mint leaves, packed
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan-Reggiano or Romano cheese
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/3 cup pine nuts or walnuts
3 medium sized garlic cloves, minced
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Combine the basil and mint with the pine nuts, pulse a few times in a food processor. (If you are using walnuts instead of pine nuts and they are not already chopped, pulse them a few times first, before adding the basil.) Add the garlic, pulse a few times more.

Slowly add the olive oil in a constant stream while the food processor is on. Stop to scrape down the sides of the food processor with a rubber spatula. Add the grated cheese and pulse again until blended. Add a pinch of salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.

Use immediately, or refrigerate in a sealed container for up to a week.
Makes 1 cup.

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Fresh Basil-Mint Pesto

September 17, 2012 Appetizer 1 Comment

Even though it may be a bit late in the season to talk about using fresh herbs from your garden (my herb plants starting going south a few weeks back), it’s never a bad time to keep this quick tip in mind next time you are making fresh pesto. By simply cutting the amount of fresh basil in half, and replacing the other half with fresh mint – in other words, using equal parts basil and pesto – you end up with a tasty and vibrant alternative to an already fresh home made sauce. Whether you are serving it on pasta, chicken, salmon, baked potato, or as a vegetable dip, the fresh mint pesto will be sure to please!

 

 

 

 

Fresh Basil-Mint Pesto
Adapted from simplyrecipes.com

1 cup fresh basil leaves, packed
1 cup fresh mint leaves, packed
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan-Reggiano or Romano cheese
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/3 cup pine nuts or walnuts
3 medium sized garlic cloves, minced
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Combine the basil and mint with the pine nuts, pulse a few times in a food processor. (If you are using walnuts instead of pine nuts and they are not already chopped, pulse them a few times first, before adding the basil.) Add the garlic, pulse a few times more.

Slowly add the olive oil in a constant stream while the food processor is on. Stop to scrape down the sides of the food processor with a rubber spatula. Add the grated cheese and pulse again until blended. Add a pinch of salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.

Use immediately, or refrigerate in a sealed container for up to a week.
Makes 1 cup.

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Lemon Mint Risotto with Zucchini

August 6, 2012 Entrees, Menu 2 Comments

Now’s the time to put that fresh harvest of vegetables and herbs to good use! One of the new herbs that I planted this year was mint. If I had known how abundant this herb was, I would have started planning recipes to use it with months ago! After putting together multiple batches of mint pesto, mint iced tea, and mint seasoned chicken to name just a few, I searched out  a delicious combination that would put not only my mint to use, but fresh zucchini and lemon as well. This dish adds lemon zing, mint accent and fresh zucchini to classic risotto. What I found most interesting about this dish was how the zucchini was sliced and added. By simply using a vegetable peeler to make long, thin slices, the zucchini takes on a beautiful ribbon shape and texture that holds up well in the warm risotto. The ribbons gently wrap around the creamy rice, yet melts in your mouth with every bite. The mint gives the perfect refreshing accent without overpowering. If you are a fan of risotto, I suggest you give this recipe a try.

LEMON MINT RISOTTO WITH ZUCCHINI

6 cups chicken stock
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 small yellow onion, chopped
2 cups arborio rice
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, plus extra for garnish
1/2 medium zucchini, thinly sliced with a vegetable peeler
juice and zest of 1 lemon
2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint leaves, plus extra for garnish

Bring stock to a simmer. Reduce heat to lowest setting and keep warm.
Heat 1 tablespoon butter and oil in a deep skillet or pot over medium heat. Add onion and sauté until softened, 2 minutes. Add rice and stir to coat. Add wine. Cook, stirring, until the wine evaporates. Add stock 1 cup at a time, stirring until nearly all of the liquid is absorbed before adding the next cup. Continue until the rice is tender but not mushy. When almost finished, stir in the zucchini, adding stock as needed and stirring continuously.Remove pan from the heat. Stir in 1 tablespoon butter, 1/2 cup parmesan cheese, lemon juice and lemon zest. Add mint leaves and serve immediately in bowls garnished with extra cheese, extra lemon zest and mint.

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