Sunday, August 7, 2011

Orzo Stuffed Bell Peppers

(Isn't my new camera awesome?! Yeah, I'm kinda obsessed.)

I have fallen for bell peppers for oh-so-many reasons. I love how there are different types, each with their own distinct personality and flavor profile. And the different aspects of each pepper changes drastically depending on the preparation. (This could probably be said of most vegetables, and one of many reasons I love cooking them.) One of my daily rituals includes slicing up red peppers, and taking them to work with some hummus or taziki, for a crispy, yet slightly juicy, mid-afternoon bite. They are also wonderful roasted and served in a pasta dish or as a side (just simple with some EVOO and s&p). The Tex-Mex feign in me loves sauteeing them slowly with onions and serving with fajitas, quesadillas, nachos, etc. They can also be sauteed quickly in a hot wok with an easy stir fry. (And the possibilities go on and on.)

If you are a bell pepper fan as well, go out and grab some soon, as their peak season falls between late summer and autumn. I hope you enjoy them in whatever preparation you prefer, and I really hope you try this recipe! In this dish, the roasted pepper takes on a sweet tenderness, while encapsulating a light, herby pasta mixture. It's a lovely presentation alongside fish, poultry, or steak, and is a delightfully fresh, healthy side that's packed full of flavor.

* 1-2 zucchini, grated
* 1 (14-ounce) can diced Italian style tomatoes, drained
* 1/4 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley
* 1/2 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano, grated (or Pecorino Romano)
* 2-3 cloves garlic, minced
* 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)
* 1 teaspoon salt
* 1/2 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
* Optional: 1/2 - 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper (for a hint of heat)
* 3 cups chicken broth or water (chicken broth imparts more flavor to the orzo)
* 1 cup orzo
* 4-5 bell peppers (red or yellow)
* Optional: bread crumbs, and more Parmigiano-Reggiano & Italian parsley to sprinkle on top

* Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
* In a large bowl, mix together the zucchini, tomatoes, parsley, cheese, EVOO, and s&p (and red pepper flakes if you choose).
* Then, partially cook the orzo by boiling in chicken broth for 4 minutes. (Save the chicken broth and pour into the baking dish you are using to bake your peppers in).
* Add the orzo to the vegetable mixture.
* Next, prepare your bell peppers by cutting off the tops and taking out all the ribs and seeds.
* Fill the peppers with the orzo mixture. Then place upright in the baking dish (already with the saved chicken broth in).
* Cover your baking dish with foil and bake for 45 minutes.
* Remove the foil, and sprinkle the top of the peppers with bread crumbs and more grated Parmagiano-Reggiano.
* Bake for another 10-15 minutes.
* Sprinkle top with parsley and enjoy!

Recipe adapted from here.

~ Stay fresh!

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