I was desperate to create something lively and flavorful for dinner the other night without a huge amount of prep or excessive amounts of grocery shopping. Inexplicably, our fridge was filled with beautiful poblano and red bell peppers, so I thought, “Why not stuff these?”
Visually, stuffed peppers are always a delight. Don’t you agree? Marcella Hazan has a really tasty recipe for peppers stuffed with eggplant and anchovies. Yum! I even like them when the stuffing gets all over the place, like when I made chile rellenos. Messy can be very good.
The problem with a lot of these recipes is that they require you to remove the outer skin of the pepper. That is a lot of work! And it is the step in which I’ll inevitably accidentally destroy the peppers, thus stuffing them becomes difficult to impossible. Well, thank goodness for the 1997 Joy of Cooking. That book came to the rescue again. In their stuffed pepper dish, they call for steaming the peppers with no peeling at all. This is so much easier, and equally delicious!
I used poblanos as well as reds. The recipe in the book calls only for the reds. Also I used pepitas instead of pine nuts, added more herbs than they recommended as well as capers and green olives to give the dish a little kick.
These stuffed peppers had an extremely delicate flavor that was marvelous. We preferred the poblanos over the reds as they had a more complex taste. We ate ours with arugula salad and an extremely aromatic pinot noir from Eric Kent. What a memorable meal!
poblano and red bell peppers stuffed with saffron rice
2 fresh poblano peppers
2 fresh medium red bell peppers
2 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, peeled and cut in thin slices
3 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
1 pinch saffron threads
1½ cups basmati rice, well rinsed
2½ cups vegetable stock
2 cups shredded provolone cheese
¼ cup pepitas, lightly toasted in a dry pan
¼ cup each chopped basil, parsley and cilantro
salt to taste
black pepper to taste
¼ cup green olives and capers
Carefully cut peppers in half to create little boat-shapes while preserving stems as much as possible. Remove inner seeds and ribs. Steam for about 8 minutes. Remove from heat and cool under running water. Set aside.
Sauté onion, garlic and saffron in olive oil on medium heat until onions start to brown (about five minutes). Add rice and stir to mix with oil. Add vegetable stock. Bring to boil then lower temperature to simmer, covered, until rice gets cooked and all the water gets absorbed (about 10 to 15 minutes). Set aside to cool.
Pre-heat oven to 350.
Pour cooled rice in a large bowl. Add cheese, fresh herbs, pepitas, salt, black pepper and olives and capers. Gently stir.
Carefully fill peppers with rice mixture. Place them in an oven-proof baking dish, fitting them tightly together. After all peppers are stuffed, carefully pour ¼ cup water around them into the base of the dish. Cover with foil and bake for thirty minutes to warm through.
Serve with salad.