Food should be fun. Okay, don’t get me wrong: There are plenty of serious food issues out there, too numerous to go into in this space, but when it comes to putting dinner on the table, a little levity goes a long way.
I was in that state of mind, anyway, when I saw a Culinary Institute of America instructor demonstrate a recipe for tomato-stuffed peppers at a serious-minded conference recently. The instructor, Adam Busby, halved and hollowed out yellow bell peppers, then nestled halved plum tomatoes inside. As good as it looked, I immediately had one thing on my mind: turducken, the Thanksgiving poultry mashup that has a chicken stuffed inside a duck stuffed inside a turkey.
With one more addition, couldn’t this be the vegetarian version? What would that third item be? New potatoes? Pearl onions? The answer was waiting in my crisper drawer: Brussels sprouts. I followed Busby’s lead in seasoning each layer with a mixture of garlic and thyme, and arranging mushrooms around the roasting pan for another element. But I also wanted to elevate this to main-course status and to add a little protein, so I cooked up some bulgur for a base and whisked together a quick sauce out of the saved tomato flesh, yogurt, tahini and more.
Just one very important task was left: What would I call this, in a turducken kind of way? I put the task to friends on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram: Should it be Bellatosprout? Peppamout? The answers poured in, many of them sounding like either a medical condition (Pepmatosels) or the medication to treat it (Peptosprout) or possibly a kitchen gadget (Brusspeppermater). Smarter heads prevailed and suggested such things as Rasta Bake (for the colors of the Rastafarian flag, I assume) or Matryoshka Peppers (a fun reference to those Russian nesting dolls).
The only problem with those? Well, the flavors of the dish don’t exactly line up with either Jamaican or Russian food. I felt like a new parent reading through too many baby-name books, so I punted: Peppers Stuffed With Tomatoes and Brussels Sprouts were born. You’re welcome.