One of my first jobs out of college was working at an Italian grocery store in Berkeley, California, and I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t mostly for the staff discount. There are few things better in this world than having near-limitless tasting privileges in a well-stocked deli. It is definitely worth the occasional grumpy customer or nonsensical management decision to be able to come home with a bag full of covetable odds and ends with which to enhance one’s otherwise budget-focused grocery haul. The ends of salamis do wonders to a pot of greens, just as Parmesan rinds add a silky richness to veggie stock, and it only takes a drizzle of good balsamic to elevate a tray of roasted veggies.
This blend of simplicity and indulgence is at the heart of Italian cooking, and offers perfect inspiration for summertime cooking when you want high impact for low effort. These stuffed peppadews embody this philosophy perfectly while hitting all the right flavor notes for a sweet, spicy, salty and savory grilled appetizer. And since they can be prepped ahead of time and cooked off while the grill is still getting up to temp, they make a perfect appetizer for pairing with the first round of Aperol Spritzes.
Peppadew peppers can be a bit tough to track down depending on where you are, but they might also just be hanging out near your favorite standbys in the olive bar of your local deli. They’re bright red, a little bigger than a cherry tomato and have the perfect size hollow on the inside for a piece of mozzarella. You could technically swap out any small pickled pepper, but the sweet, smoky spice of peppadews is worth a little shopping around. If all else fails, there’s always peppadew.com.
To make this grilled appetizer — which I have aptly named cherry bombs — you’ll need a dozen peppadew peppers, the same number of small balls of mozzarella cheese (the right size is called ciliegine, meaning cherries, hence the name of this recipe) and six paper-thin slices of prosciutto.
Cut or gently tear the prosciutto in half the long way so that you have a dozen pieces, about the width of strips of bacon, and wrap each ball of mozzarella in prosciutto. Then stuff each pepper with a ball of prosciutto-wrapped mozzarella, taking care to cover the cheese well so it doesn’t come in direct contact with the grill.
Double skewer the peppers for the grill (think railroad tracks) so they don’t spin around while they cook, four peppers on each set of skewers so they’re not crowded too close. Grill over low heat for about six minutes, or until the cheese is gooey.
As tempting as it is to pop this grilled appetizer straight into your mouth, the name cherry bomb doesn’t just come from the color of the peppers and the size of the mozzarella — they’re also lava hot on the inside. Your patience will pay off, so save the roof of your mouth if you can, and wait a few moments for them to cool down. But then again, where’s the fun in that?
Grilling an entree, too? Here’s how to cook up the perfect steak: