|Stuffed peppers, just hangin' on the picnic table.|
A stuffed pepper is really quite a great thing. It can be vegetarian or carnivorous, it's pretty hard to screw up, and it's fairly healthy (at least when you don't overdo it on the cheese - but 'overdo it on the cheese' is basically my middle name, so, you know).
I first made these last week when I had two lonely green peppers standing sentinel on my counter. I kind of hate green peppers. And I hate hating any kind of food, because I feel like I'm missing something that everyone else understands. And I hate being left out. So, I started looking up recipes involving the stuffing of said peppers. I found one on a website called Homemaker's that looked good, and called for some vegetables (mushrooms and peppers), basmati rice, lentils, and cheese. Sounded good, but a bit boring...so I threw in a green chile, some cumin and chili powder, some zucchini, and cilantro, and called them Stuffed Peppers a la Tijuana! Ole.
Anyway, they worked out great, so I thought I'd post the recipe. Because if nothing else, this is a recipe for the people.
Stuffed Peppers a la Tijuana*
adapted from www.homemakers.com
4 bell peppers, of varying colours (remove the tops of the peppers, and dice whatever pepper is left on the lids; also, clean out the inside of the peppers of any seeds and ribs)
1 zucchini, diced
1 medium-sized onion, diced
2 gloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp of olive oil (or vegetable oil, or butter, or bacon fat, for that matter)
1 green chile, minced (I use the ones you get in that flip-top can, I think they're La Costena brand - anyway, don't worry if you only need one - transfer the rest of the can to a tupperware container and they'll last a long time in your fridge - or just use a jalapeno pepper)
1 tbsp of chili powder
1 tbsp of cumin powder
1/3 cup basmati rice
1/4 cup lentils
1 cup of water or chicken stock (feel free to use stock from bouillon cubes)
a handful of chopped cilantro
1 cup of aged cheddar cheese (or other hard, grate-able cheese)
juice of half a lime
Preheat the over to 350 degrees Fahrenheit (doesn't that word look weird to you?).
Fry the onion in the oil for a couple of minutes over medium high heat, in a fairly large pan, until the onion becomes somewhat translucent. Then add the garlic, and toss that around. In goes the zucchini and the diced peppers. Fry them all together for about 5 minutes, until everything has softened together. Then add the green chile/jalapeno pepper, chili powder, and cumin powder. Make sure everything is well incorporated, and the spices should become fragrant. Add the rice, lentils, and cup of water or stock, and bring to a boil. Once it reaches a boil, turn down to a minimum and cover. Check after about 15 minutes, and every few minutes after that. The mixture should be moist but not super wet when it's ready, and make sure the rice and lentils are cooked (easy way to do this - taste them!).
Remove the mixture to a bowl and let cool a little bit. Once it's kind of cooled, stir in the cheese, cilantro (but keep a little bit to sprinkle on at the end), and the juice of half a lime. Taste for salt and pepper, and add them if necessary. Pile the mixture into the peppers, and pop them in your pre-heated over for about 45 minutes. The peppers are done once they've become soft and a little bit blistered. Top with your remaining cilantro and serve.
|Peppers getting friendly in a completely 80's serving tray.|
*I'm not really being serious in calling these 'Stuffed Peppers a la Tijuana', because obviously that's ridiculous. I just thought it was catchier than 'Stuffed Peppers'. Don't feel any need to propagate my ridiculousness.