Monday, May 2, 2011

STUFFED PEPPERS with RICE, RAISINS and PINE NUTS


Welcome to the first Monday of this month of May. Today I chose to make stuffed peppers from a recipe to be found on Martha Stewart's web site. It's a recipe that was contributed by Mrs. Kostyra, who was Martha's mother, and I thought it would be a timely choice since mother's day is so close.




A mixture of rice, raisins and pine nuts may sound strange to some, but it's a popular combination of ingredients in almost all the cuisines of the Mediterranean and Middle East.  I think this recipe makes a nice "usher in spring" meal.  The colorful peppers and vegetables look as good as they taste.  The only draw back for me was that I didn't have time to go to my grocer,  so I purchased the peppers at my local supermarket.  I didn't check the price, but I found out during checkout that they cost $4.70 per pound.  I wound up paying close to $19.00 for 6 peppers.  Way too much.  Oops! 


Ingredients:


  • 1/4 cup pine nuts
  • 5 small tomatoes, cored, seeded, and sliced about 1/2 inch thick 
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • 1/2 cup freshly squeezed orange juice (from 2 oranges)
  • 6 nice sized yellow bell peppers or 3 yellow and 3 orange
  • 1 medium red pepper, cored, seeded and finely chopped
  • 1 large tomato, peeled, seeded and chopped
  • 2 cups chicken broth or water, or a combination of the two, plus another 4 tablespoons broth or water. 
  • 1 cup rice (white, uncooked)
  • 6 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 scallions, white and soft green parts, chopped
  • 3 medium shallots, finely chopped
  • 3 sprigs fresh thyme, plus 1 teaspoon thyme leaves
  • 1/4 cup coarsely chopped fresh basil leaves
  • 2 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh parsley plus 6 sprigs

Directions:
  • Preheat oven to 350°F. Spread the pine nuts in single layer on a small baking sheet. Bake until golden, about 8 minutes. Shake the pan halfway through baking to make sure the pine nuts toast evenly.

  • Line up the tomato slices on the bottom of a baking pan that's going to be just large enough to hold the 6 peppers. Season the tomatoes with salt and pepper, sprinkle a little olive oil on top, and place a piece of thyme sprig on each slice.
  • Combine the raisins and orange juice in a small bowl. Let stand until the raisins are plumped, about 15 minutes.
  • Using a sharp knife, cut around the stems of the yellow peppers. Core and seed them, reserving the stems. Set them aside.
  • In a sauce pan, bring the broth or water to a boil. Add the rice, and simmer, covered, until the rice is just a little undercooked, about 15 minutes.
  • Meanwhile heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the scallions, chopped pepper and shallots, and cook until the shallots are translucent, about 4 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

The combination of basil, raisins and orange juice gave the stuffing an incredibly delicious flavor.
  • Stir in the chopped tomatoes and the raisins with their orange juice.  Cook for about 2 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  • Add the thyme leaves, basil, parsley and pine nuts, stirring to combine. Stir in the cooked rice.

  • Fill each pepper with one sixth of the rice mixture. Cap each pepper with the reserved pepper stems.

  • Fit the peppers into the baking dish on top of the tomatoes, and place the parsley sprigs between them. Pour 4 tablespoons of water over the peppers and sprinkle them with the remaining olive oil.
  • Cover with parchment paper-lined aluminum foil, and bake for one hour.
  • Uncover, and continue to bake until the peppers are tender and the rice is heated through, about 30 minutes longer.
This pepper used to be orange.  During baking, peppers loose some of their pigment.  In my case, it was a bit difficult to tell which pepper was yellow and which was orange.  So why did I choose two different colors? 
  • The peppers will be done when they appear shriveled up as you can see in these last two pictures.  It's how I prefer them.  That's when they get really tender: their skin can literally be peeled off.  Make sure there is liquid left in the bottom of the pan.  This way the peppers and the rice will have stayed moist through out the baking process.
 Serve and enjoy!

5 comments:

  1. Greek Girl from QueensMay 3, 2011 at 11:30 AM

    It's been way too long a time since I last made some stuffed peppers. Thanks to you and this beautiful (and beautiful looking) blog post, I'm going to make some this weekend, definitely. Although my mom's quite far from me, distance- and miles-wise, she lives very close to me, in my heart, so I think I'll make this in her honour (and in my nuna's, who also made amazing stuffed peppers whenever we went over to her house for a family get-together) this Sunday, for Mother's Day (emmm...it is THIS Sunday, isn't it? Here in Ireland, Mothering Sunday has already come and gone over a month ago).

    Thanks for sharing this, Ana. The colours and remembering how delicious these peppers are when stuffed to the brim with goodies like rice, raisins and pine nuts, really made me smile with some very sweet memories.

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  2. Nice to have you back, as I do enjoy following your blog. Your photos are beautiful. They in themselves make your reciepes look delicious.

    Sorry you paid so much for the peppers.

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  3. Hi Ana, This was a terrific choice. I cant wait for the yellow and red peppers to come down in price so I can make them again. I also didnt bake mine long enough because I got a late start and my family was starving. LOL
    I edited my post to give credit to where credit is due. (blush) Sorry about that. I guess I had Lindsey on the brain.

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  4. I haven't made stuffed peppers, in ages. This recipe looks really interesting. I think, it should be on the agenda.

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