Along with the bumper crop of slender green beans – the particular variety, I’m not quite certain of; our garden has blessed us with a bounty of beautiful purple and green peppers as well as Japanese eggplant and Chinese peas. It’s a veritable United Nations of vegetables growing in our backyard – just one of the pluses of growing your own vegetables – whether in pots on your patio or in a sliver of side yard, if you’re fortunate to have one in your slice of urban oasis.
So, I had a LOT of green peppers – and a colorful crunchy, summertime salad, like the one I posted last week, would only require one pepper – I needed a dish that would use at least 6 peppers. I decided on stuffed peppers – don’t groan, this is NOT your mother’s stuffed peppers, or my mother’s – which I remember being somewhat thick-skinned and bitter tasting and smothered with stewed tomatoes, and would eat grudgingly. Now, I know that charring and removing the skin of peppers imparts a smoky flavor and removes any bitterness, leaving you with a soft, unctuous pepper.
Grilled Peppers Stuffed with Herbed Basmati Rice
Charring and removing the skin of peppers imparts a smoky flavor and removes any bitterness, leaving you with a tender pepper full of summer flavor.
6 medium-sized green peppers
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 cup cooked basmati rice (or quinoa)
8 oz. chopped pancetta (optional)*
1 garlic clove, minced
1 medium tomato, finely chopped
1/4 cup onions, finely chopped
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme or ½ teaspoon dried
8 oz. of prepared Arrabbiata sauce*
1/2 cup fresh parmesan cheese, shredded
Heat gas grill to med-high or, if using a charcoal grill, prepare it for direct heat over hot coals.
Brush green peppers with olive oil, Grill whole, turning every 5 minutes until charred all over and very soft, about 10 minutesk. Remove from grill, put into a paper bag, folding down the top. This allows the green peppers to steam a bit and makes it easier to peel off the skin. When cool enough to handle, peel and discard the charred skin from the peppers and slit lengthwise to remove the seeds and core from the top. Lay the peppers on a paper towel to absorb any cooking liquid.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil in a large skillet. Cook the pancetta for 2 minutes, add the onion, garlic, tomato and cook over med-high heat, stirring occasionally, until tender, about 4 minutes. If you’re using dried thyme, add the thyme during the last minute to release the flavors. Transfer to a bowl.Add one cup rice and the parsley to the pancetta mixture, combine the ingredients, season to taste with salt and pepper.
Cover the bottom of a 9×12 baking dish with a layer of arrabiata sauce. Gently mound a spoonful of the rice stuffing in the middle of each pepper and press the sides around the filling. Place in the baking dish, spoon additional sauce on top, cover with aluminum foil and bake for 30 minutes. Remove the aluminum foil, sprinkle with parmesan cheese, and bake for another 5 minutes to melt the cheese.
* Can be eliminated for a satisfying and delicious vegetarian dish.
* I always like a little heat and used an Arrabbiata sauce from Antonello’s Ristorante, but you may use Puttanesca or any spaghetti-type sauce that you prefer.
Shown served atop a bed of polenta.