Greetings, one and all. I hope you liked today’s tribute to some of the culinary world’s most celebrated mothers. And I hope you’ll try the related recipes. I’m here to tell you that Maida Heatter’s Miami Beach Sour Cream Cake is to die for.
Also in today’s Food, you can read about why it’s tough for America n chefs to learn the ins and outs of butchery. Writer Cathy Barrow will be joining us for today’s Free Range chat at noon. Don’t miss it!
Which brings me to the topic at hand: a leftover question from a previous chat.
I’d love a how-to for meatless stuffed peppers, zucchini or similar vegetables. If I were to use rice or couscous, what would I add to them; and I’m assuming cooking before stuffing? What baking temperature would I use?
The beauty of stuffed peppers, zucchinis, eggplants, etc., is that the fillings can be so varied. They can contain other vegetables, grains, meat, fruit, nuts, herbs, dairy — am I forgetting anything? Well, you get the idea.
Some folks like to stuff raw vegetables into, say, a raw red bell pepper and bake until done. I prefer the method in which much of the filling has already been cooked. Let’s say I want a stuffing of rice plus garlic, onions and mushrooms. I’d make the rice, and I’d saute the garlic, onions and mushrooms before combining them with the rice and stuffing the peppers. I might even even parboil or steam the peppers for a few minutes, just to get the cooking going and soften them up a little.
Ground meats are a typical stuffing, but you want meatless, which is still full of possibilities. Just a few of the ingredients you can add: roasted squash, eggplant, onions, tomatoes, mushrooms, chilies, kale, spinach, garlic, pine nuts and other nuts, raisins, diced apple, herbs including parsley, all sorts of cheese, bread crumbs.
I don’t think there’s any one correct temp, but most recipes call for baking in an oven between 350 and 400 degrees for anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour; of course, the time will depend on whether the peppers and their contents have been precooked.
Here are two recipes from our Recipe Finder to get your on your way. The second one calls for meat, but you can just omit it or substitute another ingredient. Enjoy!
You can serve these stuffed peppers as a side dish or as a vegetarian main course. They are a nice addition to a summer buffet table. Sauteing the bread crumbs before stuffing the peppers produces a filling that is light and crisp.
8 side-dish servings or 4 main-course servings
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
4 cups lightly packed fresh bread crumbs
2 medium cloves garlic, minced
3 tablespoons minced flat-leaf parsley
1/2 cup coarsely chopped giardiniera (Italian-style pickled vegetables in a jar)
2 tablespoons capers, rinsed, drained and coarsely chopped
3/4 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
3/4 cup freshly grated pecorino Romano cheese
1 teaspoon kosher salt or sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
4 large red bell peppers, or a mix of red and yellow bell peppers
1 1/2 cups diced canned tomatoes (not drained)
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Use 2 tablespoons of the oil to grease the bottom of a baking dish large enough to hold 8 bell pepper halves.
Heat 1/4 cup of the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the bread crumbs, garlic and minced parsley and cook, stirring frequently, for 8 minutes or until the bread is pale golden and starting to crisp. Transfer the bread crumbs to a large bowl. Add the giardiniera, capers, cheeses, salt, and pepper to taste, mixing gently but thoroughly. Set aside.
Cut the bell peppers in half lengthwise, including the stems. With a paring knife, remove and discard the seeds and white ribs. Spoon the filling into the hollowed-out pepper halves. Reserve any leftover stuffing for sprinkling over the peppers before baking.
Spread about 3/4 of the tomatoes in the bottom of the prepared baking dish. Arrange the peppers on top of the tomatoes. Spoon the remaining tomatoes over the tops of the peppers. Sprinkle with any remaining bread crumbs and drizzle the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil over the peppers. Bake the peppers for about 45 minutes to 1 hour or until the tops are nicely browned and the peppers themselves are just tender. Turn off the oven and let the peppers rest inside it for 15 to 30 minutes, until they are completely tender. Serve warm or at room temperature.
From cookbook author Domenica Marchetti.
This recipe from renowned cookbook editor Judith Jones is a great use for leftover rice (or store-bought shelf-stable cooked rice) and meat, turning it into a Moroccan-style dish for a solo cook. If you don’t have leftover meat, fry some ground meat while the eggplant is cooling.
MAKE AHEAD: The eggplant can be roasted a day in advance, then cooled, covered and refrigerated. Stuff it just before roasting.
1 small whole eggplant (about 5 inches long)
1/2 cup cooked brown or white rice
1/2 cup cooked meat, finely chopped (preferably lamb; may substitute pork, beef or leftover meatloaf)
1 scallion (white and light-green parts), finely chopped
2 teaspoons pine nuts, toasted (see NOTE)
2 small canned tomatoes, preferably San Marzano, squeezed and cut into small dice (about 1/4 cup; may substitute 1 small fresh tomato, cut into small dice)
Pinch ground cinnamon
Kosher or sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 or 2 tablespoons plain dried bread crumbs
Extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Line a small roasting pan with aluminum foil.
Prick the eggplant all over with a fork and place it in the pan. Roast for 35 minutes or until it is softened but hasn’t fully collapsed. Let cool. Reduce the oven temperature to 400 degrees.
Cut the eggplant in half lengthwise and scoop out the flesh, leaving at least a 1/2-inch border of skin and flesh all around. Chop the extracted flesh and add it to a medium bowl, along with the rice, meat, scallion, pine nuts and tomatoes. Season with the cinnamon and the salt and pepper to taste; mix well.
Spoon the filling back into the eggplant shells, mounding it up in the middle, and arrange the halves in the roasting pan. Sprinkle the bread crumbs to taste on top of each half, then drizzle with the oil. Roast for 30 to 35 minutes or until the bread crumbs have browned.
NOTE: Toast pine nuts for 3 to 4 minutes, stirring constantly, in a dry, nonstick skillet over medium heat, until the nuts have browned evenly.