Thursday, May 14, 2009

Orzo Stuffed Peppers

Out of all the recipes I’ve tried, this recipe for peppers stuffed with orzo is by far my favorite stuffed pepper recipe. It’s simple, full of fresh ingredients, and freggin tasty.

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It's also a very nice vegetarian option. I’ve mentioned before that we like to eat vegetarian dinners some nights in my family. It’s a nice break from all the chicken we eat, and tends to get me thinking outside my cooking comfort zone. (If you hate vegetarian meals that feel like just a collection of vegetable side dishes as much as I do, then this is the recipe for you.)

This would also be a great date night meal. Served with a nice bread and a simple salad, you can’t go wrong.

FYI: If you do want to add some meat, some spicy sausage would be a great compliment to this. A can of black beans would probably be good as well. Even though the amount of garlic may seem like a lot, I think it’s perfect so don’t be shy.

Ingredients:

1 (14 ounce) can Italian stewed tomatoes
1 zucchini, grated
1/2 cup chopped fresh mint leaves
1/3 cup grated Pecorino Romano, plus more for sprinkling
1/3 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1 tablespoon olive oil
4 large cloves garlic, chopped
2 (14 ounce) cans chicken broth
3/4 cups orzo (rice-shaped pasta)
6 sweet bell peppers (red or yellow)
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
Salt and pepper



Directions:

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

1. Bring the chicken broth to a boil in a medium saucepan over high heat. Add the orzo and cook for 4 minutes. The orzo should be only partially cooked.



2. Meanwhile, slice the tops off the peppers and remove all ribs and seeds. Cut a very thin slice from the base to help the peppers stand up.



I also chop up the usable parts of the tops before I throw them away to add some extra flavor (not to mention less waste) but you don’t have to.

3. Pour the tomatoes into a large bowl and break apart using a pair of kitchen shears or your finger tips.



4. Add the zucchini, mint, olive oil, garlic, crushed red pepper, salt/pepper, and the sweet pepper tops (if using) to the tomatoes. Stir to combine.





5. After the orzo has cooked for 4 minutes, use a fine mesh sieve to drain the orzo. Transfer the warm chicken broth to a baking dish.



As you can see, I just drained the orzo right into my baking dish. I decided to use a small brownie dish since I only made 4 stuffed peppers, but use whatever size you need.

6. Add orzo and the cheeses to the bowl of veggies and mix everything together.





7. Place the peppers in the baking dish with the warm chicken broth. Spoon the orzo mixture into the peppers (I froze the extra filling). Cover the dish with foil and bake for 45 minutes.



8. Remove the foil, sprinkle the top of each pepper with cheese and continue baking until the cheese is golden, about 15 minutes.


And there you have it.

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It’s a little messy but super delicious. The red pepper flakes adds just the right amount of kick and the Pecorino Romano has a nice tanginess to it.

*Recipe adapted from Giada’s Everyday Italian.

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