Saturday, May 29, 2010


Forget the three-bean salad -- this is a bracing, flavorful side dish that features all the colors of healthy eating. Plus, once you've got the coals hot, you might as well use them for all they're worth.

• 4 green bell peppers, 5 poblano peppers or 3 red bell peppers, plus 3 Anaheim or Cubanelle peppers

• 2 luscious, red-ripe tomatoes, seeded and cut into 1/4-inch dice

• ½ sweet onion, cut into 1/4-inch dice

• 3 tablespoons chopped fresh mint, cilantro or flat-leaf parsley (not too finely chopped)

• ½ teaspoon ground cumin

• 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

• 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice, or more to taste

• 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar, or more lemon juice

• Coarse salt (kosher or sea) and freshly ground pepper

Heat grill to high. Arrange the peppers on the hot grate and grill, turning with tongs, until the skins are darkly browned and blistered on all sides, 3 to 4 minutes per side. Don't forget to grill the tops and bottoms of the peppers for 1 to 2 minutes. Transfer to a cutting board and let them cool to room temperature. (No, you don't need to place them in a paper bag or bowl covered with plastic wrap. I've found no appreciable difference in ease of peeling.)

Using a paring knife, scrape the charred skins off the peppers. There's no need to remove every last bit; a few black spots will add color and flavor. Cut each pepper in half, remove the core, and scrape out the seeds. Cut each pepper into 1/4-inch dice and place in a nonreactive mixing bowl.

Add the tomato, onion, mint, cumin, olive oil, lemon juice and vinegar, and toss the mix. Season with salt and pepper to taste. The salad can be prepared several hours ahead, but taste it and adjust seasoning just before serving. Makes 4 to 6 servings.

Source: Adapted from Steven Raichlen's Planet Barbecue! (Workman, $22.95).