The summer grilling season ensures a steady supply of grilled vegetables on our table. One of my father's favourite salads during this period is also one of the most notorious in our family.
I'll never forget the day I first sampled this recipe. You have probably walked by them a thousand times in the vegetable section wherever you shop, and yet, you may never even have given them so much as a second glance. Here is what I often think about whenever I see hot banana peppers in a market:
My father proffered a plate and slid a cousin of one the beauties from the photo above on to my dish. He instructed me to roll it up, slip it into a wedge of folded pita, and take a large bite. My mother, meanwhile, warned me not to listen to my father, that the pepper was too hot. But, I was a child, and a wilful one at that, so my mother's warning served as nothing more than the equivalent of a challenge. I did as my father instructed, though, instead of just taking a bite, I shoveled the whole thing into my mouth and started chewing. After all, how hot could it be?
Well, friends, the scene that ensued is etched into the very corners of my mind for it quickly developed into a wholly disproportionate series of events. We're talking about a Greek family here... In a nutshell, the script consisted of a mad scramble for water, which, when put to my burning lips, ended up going down the "wrong pipe". This resulted in a spasm of ugly choking, fiery coughing, my father's backslapping, my sister's wailing, the rooster crowing, the cattle lowing, the cymbals crashing, the lightning flashing, the seas heaving, the earth shaking, my mother's scolding, and me, ultimately crying. Ha! Who would have thought such dramatic moments could follow the simple act of consuming a humble pepper with a bit o' cheese and stuff?
But, do you think such an episode served to dissuade me from ever eating hot banana peppers again? Sister, it didn't even leave a scar. Also, it provided some valuable insights regarding the tragic hilarity of family politics. I am definitely a better and stronger person for it. Life in a Greek family has its spicy moments.
I have a few things to say regarding prep for this dish. First, don't bite your fingernails, you'll need them to quickly and effectively peel the peppers. Second, peel the peppers when they are hot and keep your finger tips moist. Third, handle the peppers gently so as not to tear them, and try to peel away large sections of the charred skin. Lastly, a little bit of real Greek feta cheese goes a long way. I used no more than the equivalent of three tablespoons of it, crumbled over top of the peppers in the photo above.
If you wish to tone down the heat a bit, carefully slit the grilled peppers open and remove some or all of the seeds. Banana peppers come in a variety of heat intensities, so proceed at your own risk. As far as Greek food recipes go, this one's about as easy as they come. Add a little heat to your summer sizzle.
hot banana peppers (a.k.a. Hungarian or wax peppers)
real Greek Feta cheese
Greek extra-virgin olive oil
dried Greek oregano
Greek wine vinegar
NOTE: Yes, I use Greek products as much as possible as I deem them to be superior quality, especially the cheese, here's why.
- Grill peppers until charred and peel.
- Spread peppers flat on a serving dish and add crumbled Feta cheese over top of the peppers.
- Drizzle a little olive oil and a some wine vinegar over everything.
- Finish with a sprinkle of oregano and serve.
Kali Orexi! (Bon Appetit!)
Greek Food Recipes and Reflections
Copyright © 2008, Sam Sotiropoulos. All Rights Reserved.