By Lori Powell
I was shopping yesterday for a food shoot and while in the produce aisle, I could not stop looking at the towering stacks of beautiful bell peppers of all colors. While bell peppers are a bit overused to add color to dishes in a saute, chili, stir-fry and such, I love to stuff them with an assortment of healthy ingredients.
When used whole, peppers are a perfect sweet vessel – yes, a little retro, but great to make for one or two all year round.
My easy take on the stuffing is to use the pre-cooked rice that you can buy now in all varieties in supermarkets from shelf-stable to the frozen organic kind. They are available in brown rice, wild rice mix, jasmine and white, to name a few. I especially like the frozen organic brown and jasmine varieties.
Brown rice can take up to 40 minutes to cook on top of the stove so when in a pinch I use the frozen variety which you microwave for a couple of minutes and voila, you have cooked rice for stir-fry, soup, stuffings and pilaf. The other alternative is to purchase already-cooked brown rice from your local Chinese takeout for pennies.
Here’s my quick take on super-easy and healthy stuffed brown rice peppers.
Prep: 10 minutes Cook: 40 minutes
2 large bell peppers, tops removed and seeds and ribs discarded
2 cups cooked brown rice
1 ¼ cups chopped baby spinach leaves
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon aged sherry vinegar
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
¼ cup finely grated manchego cheese
¼ cup chopped pine nuts
2 tablespoons crumbled goat cheese (optional)
Preheat oven to 400F. Roast seeded peppers standing up on a sheet pan with tops of pepper alongside them, cut sides down, until softened, about 20 minutes. Remove pan from oven and let peppers cool.
Stir together in a large bowl, rice, spinach, black pepper, vinegar, oil, manchego and pine nuts. Season with salt. Stuff peppers with rice mixture, mounding it, and sprinkle with goat cheese, if used.
Roast in middle of oven until peppers are tender but not falling apart and cheese is melted, about 20 minutes. Serve with a green salad or alongside steak or fish.
TIPS: Other yummy things to stuff the peppers with are cooked spicy sausage or chorizo and Monterey jack with the rice. Or try rice and beans and the sausage. Alternatively, combine orzo pasta with prosciutto, mozzarella and tomatoes or orzo with feta, olives and lemon.
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