Summer-Stuffed Peppers

Sometimes I selfishly use this blog to remind myself of some strange creation that might otherwise be lost and forgotten.  This could plausibly be said about the whole-wheat savory cake or the strawberry goat-cheese pizza, two very delicious concoctions that were only created out of a great need to eat something, anything, when food conditions were harsh.  This brings us to four very cute bell pepper plants in my garden that all decided to ripen their peppers at the same time, resulting in 6 perfectly red bell peppers that “had” to be picked at once before a natural disaster (mouse, mold, unfriendly human) could claim them as their own.  While there are a lot of things one can do with 6 red bell peppers, I was entirely consumed with the idea of roasting them.  Flipping through a Greek cookbook (by Rena Salaman and Jan Cutler) for roasting ideas, I was further consumed by the idea of roasting and stuffing them.  Unfortunately, I had almost none of the ingredients for any of the suggested stuffings and had to put my B.S. degree into action.  (While that could allude to a number of things, on a practical level, I did learn how to make stuffing in college…)

This stuffing is literally almost everything sitting on the counter at the time I decided to roast and stuff my bell peppers.  Amounts are approximate, but tasting the stuffing pre-stuffing is encouraged.  In fact, it was through extensive tasting that I determined that with a little less garlic, this stuffing would just make an excellent salad.  In place of the chicken broth, one could use water, or perhaps just slightly less-stale bread.  In the spirit of this recipe, almost every ingredient could be swapped for something else (except the salt and pepper maybe).  To get the creative juices flowing, excellent vegetable stuffing ingredients could include rice, quinoa, corn, nuts (almonds and pine nuts come to mind), raisins, summer squash, dill, leftover baked fish, and copious amounts of melty cheese (feta, pepper jack…).

Summer-Stuffed Peppers
6 medium bell peppers, cut in half, seeds and stem carefully removed
3-4 small slices of good bread that’s possibly quite stale
1/2 small red onion, chopped
2-3 cloves garlic, finely diced
Handful of cherry tomatoes, washed and quartered
Tablespoon of fresh oregano leaves, chopped if large
Tablespoon of fresh basil leaves, cut into ribbons
Generous drizzle of olive oil
1/2 cup or more grated parmesan cheese
1/4 cup of chicken/vegetable stock or water to give moisture to the bread
Small stack of arugula leaves, cut into thick ribbons
Salt and pepper to taste
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.  Line a baking pan with parchment paper for easy cleanup (or skip this step if the dishwasher doesn’t protest).  Place the halved peppers on the baking tray, skin-side down (we’re making little pepper bowls after all).  Bake the peppers in the oven for 15 minutes while you put together the rest of the ingredients in a bowl.  Mix the rest of the ingredients well, and taste for salt and pepper and make sure that the bread has enough moisture from the chicken stock.  Once the peppers have had their 15 minutes in the oven, take them out and fill them with the stuffing.  The arugula and herbs may take up volume before they’ve been cooked, but they won’t after a romp in the oven, so make sure there’s plenty of stuffing in each pepper half.   Return the filled peppers to the oven and bake for another 20-30 minutes, until the bread is crispy and the kitchen smells AMAZING!

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