Sweet grilled (or broiled) bell pepper boats stuffed with cream cheese, basil, and chives then topped with tomatoes and cilantro make a great, fresh appetizer.
I don’t know about you, but I feel like I haven’t embraced summer enough. I didn’t go to enough farmer’s markets. I didn’t eat enough peaches. I didn’t eat enough corn. I barely even grilled. One of my goals for every summer is to learn how to grill. Sure, I can set up my little tabletop propane grill and burn some hot dogs, but I don’t know how to cook ribs. I don’t know how to cook chicken. I don’t even know how to grill corn. Charcoal? Cedar plank wood? A smoker? Last week I was getting ready to test a new grilling book (review coming soon) when I realized that I haven’t lit up my grill this summer. Not even once for hot dogs. I panicked and looked at how much time I had left. Roughly a few weeks until the end of summer then maybe a few weeks afterwards as we brace for cooler weather. Did I just waste another summer not learning how to grill (again)? Well, even if I don’t have time to learn how to make baby back ribs or cedar-planked salmon, I can still fit in a few easy recipes, such as these Herbed Cream Cheese Grilled Bell Pepper Boats. Colorful, sweet grilled bell peppers stuffed with basil and chive cream cheese, a great end-of-summer appetizer.
I wanted to share these Herbed Cream Cheese Grilled Bell Pepper Boats with you as you head to the final weeks of farmer’s markets. Grab a few beautiful bell peppers, some fresh herbs, and fire up your grill. You spend more time prepping than cooking, which with enough planning, you can easily have these bell pepper boats ready to eat in no time.
The Herbed Cream Cheese itself makes me want to eat it alone with a spoon. I’m going to make it again to use on bagels for breakfast and maybe even sandwiches for lunch. You beat cream cheese until smooth and add in a little bit of raw garlic, fresh basil, and fresh chives. I had the fresh basil but not the chives, so I used dried chives. Feel free to use whatever herbs you have handy. For the topping, the recipe called for chopped tomatoes and fresh parsley. I cut up a few cherry tomatoes and used cilantro because I didn’t have any parsley.
These bell pepper boats are actually considered appetizers, but I ate about 8 of them and called it a meal. I couldn’t stop eating them. You have the creaminess from the filling, the bite from the raw garlic, the freshness from the herbs, plus a bit of a sweet crunch from the blackened bell peppers. The hardest part was every time I tried to grab the boats to remove, the filling would fall out, either into the grill itself or onto the table. That’s just me not being coordinated enough, but do be careful when transporting them. Also, have paper towels handy because you may get cream cheese under your nails.
Herbed Cream Cheese
- 8 ounces cream cheese, softened
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 2 Tbsp chopped fresh basil
- 1 Tbsp chopped fresh chives
- 2 large red, yellow, or orange bell peppers, stemmed, seeded, and quarterly into "boats"
- Olive oil for brushing and drizzling
- 1/2 cup chopped tomatoes
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
- Prepare grill to medium-high heat*.
- In a medium bowl, beat the cream cheese until smooth. Beat in the garlic, basil, and chives. Set aside.
- Brush the skin side of each pepper boat with olive oil. Spoon some cream cheese into the middle of each boat (don't overstuff). Place on the grill and cover. Grill for 5 minutes or until the bottoms are scorched and the cheese has melted. Sprinkle each boat with chopped tomatoes, cilantro, and drizzle of olive oil.
*If grilling is not an option, you can also make these under a broiler.
Source: Adapted from The Gardener and The Grill
If you enjoyed these Herbed Cream Cheese Grilled Bell Pepper Boats, stay tuned next week for a cookbook review of The Gardener and The Grill. It’s a book that focuses on grilling fresh produce from the farmer’s markets. This is not a vegetarian book by any means. It has a strong emphasis on produce, but there are a good bit of meat recipes that pair well with nature’s bounty.