Elegantly Simple Stuffed Bell Peppers
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Use any combination of peppers for this elegant but simple recipe. It’s very versatile: the flavor will change depending on which herbs and spices you choose.
Yield: 12 servings
1 cup water
6 bell peppers, preferably a variety of colors
Water or vegetable stock, for sautéing
2 medium-size yellow onions, roughly chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced or pressed
One 16-ounce can fire-roasted diced tomatoes
1/2 cup raw almonds, finely chopped or slivered 2 1/2 cups cooked long-grain brown rice (or other grain, such as quinoa)
3 tablespoons chopped fresh mint
3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
3 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
3 tablespoons raisins
2 to 3 tablespoons ground almonds
3 tablespoons oil, for brushing and oiling baking dish
Salt and pepper, to taste
Chopped mixed fresh herbs, for garnish (optional)
Preheat oven to 375°F. Boil 1 cup water to pour around peppers in pan.
Halve peppers lengthwise, leaving stems intact. Scoop out seeds. Brush cut sides with 1 tablespoon oil, place them cut side up in a shallow, lightly oiled baking dish, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake for 15 minutes, until the peppers are softer and easily pierced with a fork but still have their shape.
Heat a few tablespoons of water or stock in a large soup pot. Sauté onions and garlic for 5 minutes over medium heat, until onion becomes translucent. Add tomatoes and raw almonds, and sauté for another minute or two. Remove pan from heat and stir in rice, mint, parsley, basil, and raisins. Season well with salt and pepper, then spoon mixture into the peppers still on the baking sheet.
Serving suggestions and variations
*Garnish with toasted pine nuts or walnuts. To toast the nuts, just place them on a toaster oven tray and toast for 5 minutes; watch closely or they will burn.
*Serve with pita triangles, fresh bread, crackers, chips, carrots, mushrooms, cucumber, etc.
*To make your own bread crumbs: Place some bread (stale bread works great) in the oven until it’s crispy but not really browned – at 300 degrees). Let it cool, then add it to your food processor until it is reduced to crumbs. Add Italian herbs such as dried oregano, thyme, basil, marjoram, rosemary, black pepper, etc. Enjoy!
*To roast your own pepper: Heat the oven to 525 degrees (or use your broiler if you have one). Place peppers on an oiled cookie sheet. Roast on the highest rack for about 30 minutes or until they turn completely black. It’s not necessary to turn them. Remove them from the oven, and put them in a paper bag right away. Let them cool before handling them. The blackened skin will then just peel off after only about 10 minutes in the bag. Roasting peppers over an open flame is also a great way to do it (and you don’t need any oil). Use your gas range or grill. Use tongs and just turn over an open flame for about 10 minutes until charred. Proceed as above.