Monday, 28 February 2011

Vegetarian Stuffed Peppers

I love stuffed peppers. They make a really versatile side dish, starter or even main course. This vegetarian version has chickpeas in it for protein and flavour, and it looks so pretty with the colourful vegetable and couscous stuffing. They taste lovely with a Neapolitan (tomato) sauce over top of them, but having said that I serve them most often with a bit of grated cheese (if you are serving vegans you can now get vegan ‘cheese’).

The recipe is flexible in terms of quantity, and of course peppers vary in size,  so the quantities here are just a guide. Once again, I have used my favourite roast vegetables - click here for the very easy recipe. I do cut them a bit smaller when I’m using them for this recipe as it makes it easier to stuff the peppers. 

Depending on the size of the peppers, I tend to serve one pepper per person if this is a side dish or starter, and two peppers if it is a main course. So to serve four people as a main course, you need:

8 red, green, yellow or orange peppers, tops cut off and seeds removed
(You can use the chopped pieces from the tops as part of your Roast Vegetables)
About 1 cup of roast vegetables
1 cup couscous
2 cups vegetable stock (you might need a bit more than this)
½ cup canned chickpeas (preferably organic), drained and rinsed
2 teaspoons dried parsley
1 teaspoon dried oregano
salt and pepper to taste
grated vegetarian or vegan cheese, optional
Neapolitan sauce, optional

Preheat the oven to 375 (about 190).

Place the de-seeded peppers in a deep baking dish that they will fit into fairly tightly. (You may need to trim a tiny bit off the bottoms to get them to sit up, but don’t cut too much off or the stuffing will fall out!)

Warm the vegetable stock on the stove top or in the microwave.

Place the couscous in a large bowl. Add the roast vegetables, chickpeas, parsley and oregano and stir to mix. Pour the hot vegetable stock over top and lightly stir with a fork. Cover with plastic wrap or foil and set aside for about five minutes.

Fluff the couscous mixture with a fork and taste. You may want to add a bit more stock at this point if the couscous needs it (it should be fairly moist, but still retaining its shape and a bit of an al dente texture). Add salt and pepper to taste.

Carefully stuff the peppers with the couscous mixture. Boil the kettle and pour a bit of boiling water in the bottom of the baking pan with the peppers. You only need a bit - about a quarter inch in the bottom of the dish, just to create a bit of steam. Cover the baking dish with aluminum foil and bake for 40 to 50 minutes, or until the stuffed peppers are soft.

If you are using cheese, sprinkle a bit of it on top of each pepper and return the baking dish to the oven uncovered. Cook until the cheese begins to melt and brown a bit.

Serve with Neapolitan sauce, if desired.

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