Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Stuffed Peppers

The farmers markets are coming to an end. This makes me want to cry a little. When I made my usual Tuesday lunchtime stop at the Streeterville farmers market I asked the woman at Scheeringa how much longer they would be there. "Hopefully 2 weeks." Noooooo! Because "hopefully 2 weeks" also means "maybe 1 week". I'm really going to miss my weekly dose of fresh local produce, and croissants from La Provence. See you again in June... I really need to look into a CSA for this winter.

One of the goodies that's been at the market for the past few weeks is peppers. Green, red, multi-color, purple, hot and sweet. I actually planned (surprisingly) what I was going to make before going to the market, so I picked up 6 small peppers for this recipe. This one comes to you from Smitten Kitchen, with a couple little changes on my part. I'll give you her recipe straight up, then explain my additions.

vegetable-oil cooking spray
1 1/4 cups fat-free chicken or vegetable broth
2/3 cup couscous
4 extra-large or 5 large bell peppers, mixed colors
2 tsp olive oil
1/2 cup chopped onion
6 oz zucchini, quartered lengthwise then sliced across thinly
6 oz yellow squash, quartered lengthwise then sliced across thinly
1/2 tsp fennel seeds
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup cherry tomatoes, cut in half
15 oz canned chickpeas, drained and rinsed
4 oz crumbled feta cheese (about 1 cup)
3 tablespoons tomato paste

Preheat oven to 350°F. Coat a small baking dish with cooking spray. Bring the broth to a boil in a saucepan, add the couscous, cover the pan and remove it from the heat. Cut the stems and top half inch off the bell peppers and scoop out the seeds and membranes. Place peppers upright in a baking dish and roast them for 15 minutes or so, until they soften, then remove them from the oven until the filling is ready.

Heat oil in a nonstick skillet. Add onion, zucchini, yellow squash, fennel seeds, oregano, and salt.

Cook, stirring frequently, for 5 minutes or until vegetables are softened. Remove from heat and stir in the tomatoes, chickpeas and tomato paste. Using a fork, scrape the couscous into the skillet and toss with the vegetables. Stir in the crumbled feta.

Fill peppers with the couscous mixture. Bake 15 minutes. Serve immediately.

I skipped the vegetable oil spray. Minor change, but the peppers were fine without it. I also made a whole box of couscous and used about half of it, which was still double what the recipe called for. But I meant to do this, I wanted to have extra filling. The zucchini and squash I had were bigger than 6 ounces so I used all of those, added a bit more fennel seeds and oregano, and I added more tomatoes and tomato paste but the same amount of chickpeas and feta. So all this equated to leftover filling, which I will eat for lunch today. I also added about 1/3 cup pine nuts. And I didn't mix everything together in a skillet, but just in a mixing bowl because I had way too much to fit in the pan.

The peppers were great and very pretty, but I think in the future I would rather just roast the peppers longer and cut them up and add them to the couscous mixture. They didn't really get as soft as I would like them. But all in all, I really liked this side dish. It was very easy and makes for great leftovers.

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