Sunday, September 13, 2009

Stuffed Peppers

This evening, I used up some leftover Thai Jasmine rice from the other night and made stuffed peppers. I'm proud of myself for using the rice because it's so easy just to toss it away or to let it sit in the fridge for a few days and then toss.

With this recipe, the rice filling fuses with the flavour of the roasted pepper and creates a delicious vegetarian dish that could be served alone as its own course or as a colourful main dish to a lunch or dinner. This is good to make if you're having guests over because of the peppers make such a beautiful presentation. I love making that first cut into the steaming hot pepper and watching the filling spill out. Is that cruel?

You could use this same stuffing with tomatoes instead of peppers. And the filling is versatile too. You could use orzo pasta, ground meat such as chicken or beef, lentils or even leftover chili. There's lots of room for creativity here with both the ingredients and presentation.

For this recipe, I used Giada de Laurentiis's Orzo-Stuffed Peppers as the base and enhanced it with some of my personal favorites- caramelized onions, feta cheese and some fresh kale from my garden.

Stuffed Peppers (serves 4-6)

1 (28-ounce) can whole Italian tomatoes
1 medium zucchini, grated
1 cup chopped kale, spinach or chard
1 onion
1/2 cup chopped fresh basil
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup feta cheese
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons butter
3 garlic cloves, minced
salt and pepper to taste
2 cups cooked rice
6 sweet bell peppers (red, yellow or orange)

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Heat a small fry pan over a medium heat, add butter and once melted and sizzling, add chopped onion. Saute the onions for about 15 minutes, until the are golden and starting to caramelize. Add the chopped kale, spinach or chard for just a minute or two, until starting to wilt. Remove from heat.

Pour the tomatoes and their juices into a food processor and pulse. Transfer the puree tomatoes into a large bowl and add the rice, zucchini, basil, cheeses, olive oil, garlic, onions and greens mixture, salt and pepper. Stir to combine.

Wash the peppers and slice to tops off the peppers and remove all the ribs and seeds. If the peppers don't stand up nicely on their own, cut a very thin slice from the base to help to stand up.

Spoon the rice mixture into the peppers and place them into a greased baking dish (grease the baking dish with a little olive oil). Cover the dish with tin foil and bake for 45 minutes. Remove the foil and continue baking for 15 minutes more until the peppers are tender and golden. Garnish with a little grated Parmesan cheese or basil and serve.

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