What’s Cookin’ — October 29, 2009

Jeanne Briggs

Jeanne Briggs


“Bell” Weather

There’s no disguising a bell pepper. While summer vegetables such as zucchini and eggplant tend to absorb other flavors, bell peppers assert themselves in dishes. Even when used as a garnish—say, finely diced bell pepper showered over pasta or grilled scallops—the bright taste of the pepper hits your palate first. Eaten raw, they’re crunchy and refreshing. When cooked, they grow soft and luscious, and their flavor sweetens and mellows. Then the gorgeous, racy colors—red, orange, yellow, and even purple—can brighten and enliven plain dishes. Go bells! 

Jasmine Rice-Stuffed Peppers

4 large bell peppers (you choose your colors)
Cooking spray
1/2 cup chopped onion
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 jalapeño pepper, minced
1/2 cup uncooked jasmine rice
1 cup chicken broth
2 cups tomato sauce, divided
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese, divided
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 large egg, lightly beaten
2/3 pound ground sirloin
1/3 pound ground turkey meat

Preheat oven to 400F. Cut bell peppers in half lengthwise; discard seeds and membranes, leaving the stems intact. Place on a foil-lined jellyroll pan, cut-sides up. Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add onion, garlic and jalapeño to pan; sauté 5 minutes or until onion is lightly browned. Add rice, and cook 2 minutes, stirring frequently. Add broth; bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 10 minutes. Remove from heat and cool completely. Combine rice mixture, 1 cup tomato sauce, 1/4 cup cheese, and remaining ingredients in a large bowl, stirring until blended. Spoon about 1/2 cup meat mixture into each pepper half. Spoon remaining cup tomato sauce evenly over peppers. Cover and bake at 400F for 45 minutes. Uncover and sprinkle with remaining cheese; bake until cheese melts. Serves 4 (two pepper halves each).

Sautéed Peppers

Rinse and seed 4 peppers; cut in thin slices. Heat 3 tablespoons salad oil in large frying pan; add peppers, 2 tablespoons water and 1/2 teaspoon cumin seed. Cook over medium heat, stirring, until peppers are limp and liquid has evaporated; salt to taste. Serve at room temperature.

Zucchini with Bacon and Red Peppers

1/2 cup diced bacon, uncooked
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1-1/2 cups diced onion
1 cup diced celery
1 cup chicken broth
1 teaspoon ground pepper
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon cider vinegar
1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil
6 cups zucchini sliced into 1/2-inch slices (about 1-3/4 pounds)
2 medium red bell peppers, seeded and cut into 1-1/2-inch strips

Cook the bacon until browned. Add the garlic, onion and celery, and cook until just tender. Stir in the chicken stock, pepper, Worcestershire, vinegar, and basil. Add the zucchini and peppers. Cover the pan and simmer over low heat for 15 minutes, or until tender. Arrange the zucchini on a serving platter. Drizzle sauce over all. Serves 6.

Green Pepper Casserole

2 tablespoons butter or margarine
1 cup uncooked long grain rice
2 cups chicken broth
3 mixed color peppers, seeded and sliced
1-1/2 pounds lean ground beef
1 medium onion, chopped
2 stalks celery, thinly sliced
1 clove garlic, mashed or minced
1 teaspoon oregano leaves
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
2 (8-oz.) cans tomato sauce
1-1/2 cups shredded Cheddar cheese

Heat butter in a frying pan, add rice, and stir until lightly toasted; spoon into a greased 9×13 baking dish. Pour boiling chicken broth over rice. Arrange pepper slices on the rice. Cover tightly with foil and put into a 375F oven for 20 minutes. Using the same frying pan, sauté meat until it loses its pinkness. Add onion, celery, garlic, oregano, salt and pepper; continue cooking for 5 minutes. Stir in the tomato sauce. Remove casserole from the oven and spoon the meat mixture over the peppers. Cover and bake for 15 minutes more. Remove cover, sprinkle with the cheese, and bake uncovered for 5 to 10 more minutes. Serves 6.

Mini Pizzas with Sweet Bell Peppers and Mozzarella

1 package of frozen small dinner rolls (thaw 8 rolls for the pizzas)
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 red bell peppers, seeded and chopped
Chopped ripe olives
1 handful basil leaves
1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
6 oz. sliced mozzarella
Salt and ground pepper

Let the bread dough rolls rise in a warm place and flatten with a rolling pin to the size you wish. Meanwhile, heat the oil, add the garlic and peppers, and fry gently until tender. Transfer this to a food processor, add the basil and balsamic vinegar, and process until smooth. Season to taste. Preheat the oven to 425F. Grease a baking sheet. Place the flattened dough on the sheet slightly apart. Spread a large tablespoon of the mixture over each dough round and top with some olives and mozzarella slices. Season with pepper. Bake for about 10 minutes until golden and bubbling. Makes 8 mini pizzas.



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