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!
- 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.
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.