The grill is one of our summer cooking essentials. No one wants to heat up the oven during the summer, because it warms up the entire kitchen. Any garden vegetable that we can throw on the grill, we do. Grilled okra, eggplant, onions, zucchini, squash… the possibilities are endless. So why leave out grilled jalapeños? These hearty summer vegetables grow each year with little interference from me. In fact, they just might be the most low maintenance plant in my entire garden.
Unlike bell pepper varieties, jalapeños obviously aren’t as large, so the plants produce more. At any given time, there are usually 5-6 jalapeños growing on each of our plants. This is perfect for the different ways we use jalapeños in the summer. They’re great for salsa, grilled poppers, pickling, or spicy sauces. And for the most part, the jalapeños patiently wait on the plant until you’re ready to use them. Only if you leave them on well past their prime do they begin to develop brown “wrinkles” or lines that show they’ve been waiting too long to be used.
The ease of use and low maintenance growing make jalapeños a perfect choice for someone just starting to garden or for families who are on-the-go a lot. And if you happen to like spicy foods, all the better!
Stuffed and Grilled Jalapeños
My husband’s cousin is famous for her stuffed jalapeno poppers at family events. She stuffs hers with cream cheese, cheddar, and sausage. How could that combination NOT taste amazing? But her version goes in the oven, and as I’ve already said, when the jalapeños are in season, my oven is not. So, how could I get the same cheesy, spicy taste without warming up the entire kitchen? Enter grilled jalapeños. And bacon…
As breakfast meats go, I actually prefer bacon to sausage. It can be super crispy, and funny though it may seem, a bit lighter on the stomach. Add to that the fact that bacon comes in fabulous nitrate-free options now, I decided to replace the sausage in the original recipe with bacon. The bacon works to keep the cheese in place (and not all over the grill), and it adds a smoky flavor that’s a total winner. Now, onto the recipe!
6-8 (or more) fresh jalapeños
4 oz. cream cheese, softened (I used Neufchatel)
2 oz. shredded cheddar cheese
2 garlic cloves minced or pressed
6 oz. bacon
Grill Rack (optional)
- Begin by cutting jalapeños in half lengthwise. Using a sharp paring knife remove as many seeds and membrane as you would like. The seeds and membrane (white part that seeds stick to) is where the heat is, so the more you remove, the less spicy your jalapeños will be. Set jalapeños aside. (And wash your hands!! I can tell stories about not washing hands and then rubbing my eyes. The pain…)
- In a medium sized bowl, mix softened cream cheese, cheddar, and garlic. Mix well until completely combined. Begin spooning the mixture into the halved jalapeños, using the back of the spoon to force the mixture into every little crevice.
- Now comes the fun part. Get some toothpicks handy on the counter or cutting board, and using either a full strip of bacon or a half strip, begin wrapping the stuffed jalapeño. (If you’re using center cut bacon, use a full strip. For other, longer types of bacon, a half strip will suffice.) Once the bacon is wrapped around the jalapeño, secure it with a toothpick pushed all the way through.
- Have the grill preheated to a medium-high temperature. We use a grill basket for the ease of placing all of the jalapeños on the grill at one time, but you can certainly place them one at a time on the grilling surface. Our grill has the main grilling surface and an upper rack. For these jalapeños, we use the upper rack. If you don’t have this option, use the main grill rack, but bring the temperature down (if using gas) or use indirect heat (if using charcoal). Close the cover on the grill and let them cook, checking after 10 minutes or so. Jalapeños will be done when the bacon is fully cooked, and the cheese appears melted. The bacon should keep the cheese fairly contained, so you won’t have a huge mess in your grill.
- Serve your jalapeños soon after coming off the grill. We like to have them as an appetizer while the rest of dinner is grilling.
And that’s it! Grilled jalapeños are a super quick and easy appetizer option that will keep you popular with your friends. And it gives you the perfect excuse to grow lots of jalapeños in your summer garden! Honestly, you could grill these babies up, serve them with a big salad and call it dinner. They’re really that filling.
I’d love to know your favorite garden veggie to throw on the grill. We’re always looking for things to try. Have a great week and happy gardening!