Turkish Stuffed Peppers

I’m not sure what possessed me to make such a time consuming dinner on a weekday, when I knew I had a lot do to that day.  Oh, and did I mention that I chose to make hummus – from scratch, using dried beans – as a side dish? I suppose it’s a good thing I bought the pitas, and didn’t try to make my own!

Somehow, though, I managed to get the peppers done while my almost 3-month-old daughter, Tova, napped (thankfully, she decided to take a really long afternoon nap today!). And they were worth every minute they took to make! I tend to love savory recipes that have cinnamon it them, and this was no exception. We all loved these, and I will definitely make them again.

In case you were wondering how I fit the hummus into my schedule: I soaked the chickpeas overnight, cooked them as soon as I woke up in the morning while I was getting the two older kids ready for school, put them in the fridge, and the finished making the hummus right before dinner.
I used THIS recipe, from the same cookbook as the peppers. It’s fantastic.

Stuffed Peppers (Turkey)
Mediterranean Harvest, Martha Rose Shulman

6 medium red bell peppers
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
1 large or 2 medium onions, finely chopped
2 tablespoons pine nuts
2 tablespoons dried currants, soaked in hot water for 5 minutes
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground allspice
1 teaspoon sugar
3 cups water, divided
1 1/4 cups short-grain rice
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1/2 cup finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh dill
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (optional)
Lemon wedges

Cut the tops off the peppers and remove and discard the seeds and membranes. Save the tops.

Heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil in a large, wide saucepan or skillet over medium heat and add the onion and pine nuts. Cook, stirring, until the onion is tender and beginning to color, about 8 minutes, and add the garlic. Cook, stirring, until fragrant, 30 seconds to 1 minute, and stir in the currants, cinnamon, allspice, and sugar. Stir together, then add 1/2 cup water. Cook, stirring, until most of the liquid has evaporated, about 5 minutes. Add the rice, 3/4 teaspoon salt, and some pepper. Add 2 cups water and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer, uncovered, until the liquid is absorbed, 10 to 15 minutes. Remove from the heat and cover the pan with a clean towel. Leave for 10 minutes, then stir in the herbs. Taste and adjust salt and pepper.

Stuff the peppers with the rice mixture and replace the caps. Stand the peppers in a wide pan. Mix together the remaining 1/2 cup water, 2 tablespoon olive oil, and the lemon juice, and pour over and around the peppers. Bring to a simmer, reduce the heat, and cover the pan. Simmer for 40 to 50 minutes, until there is no longer any liquid, just oil, in the pan and the peppers are very tender. Uncover and cool in the pan.

Arrange the peppers on a platter, garnish with lemon wedges for squeezing over the peppers, and serve.

6 main dish servings or 8 to 10 appetizer servings

Advance preparation: This is an excellent keeper, and since it should be served at room temperature, it’s fine to make it a day ahead and refrigerate overnight. Bring back to room temperature before serving. You can also make the rice filling a day before stuffing the peppers.

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Curried Vegetables with Dahl

This was a nice and healthy meal, full of those Indian flavors that I love. Although I don’t have a picture of it, I am going to include the recipe for the rice that I served with it – it was sooo good!

Curried Vegetables with Dahl
Moosewood Restaurant Cooks at Home, The Moosewood Collective

1 1/2 cups red lentils or yellow split peas
4 or 5 cups water
1 onion, chopped (about 1 cup)
1 fresh green chile, minced (I used a jalapeno, seeded)
3 tablespoons vegetable oil or ghee (clarified butter)
2 sweet potatoes, peeled and diced (about 4 cups)
1 tablespoon mild curry powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
2 tablespoons grated fresh ginger root
2 cups water
1/2 head cauliflower (about 4 cups florets)
2 green or red bell peppers, chopped (about 2 cups)
10 ounces fresh spinach
2-3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
Salt to taste

Rinse the lentils or split peas. Lentils cook faster and absorb less water than split peas, so use 4 cups of water for lentils, 5 cups of water for split peas. In a covered saucepan, bring the water and lentils or peas to a boil. reduce heat, uncover, and simmer for about 30 minutes, until tender.
In a large soup pot, saute the onion and chile in the oil for several minutes. Add the sweet potatoes, curry powder, cumin, and ginger and continue to saute for 2 to 3 minutes, stirring often. Pour in the 2 cups of water. Cut the cauliflower into florets and add to the pot. Add the bell peppers, cover, and simmer for 10 minutes.
While the vegetables simmer, rinse, stem, and coarsely chop the spinach. Pour the lentils or peas and their cooking liquid into a blender or food processor, and puree for 2 to 3 minutes to make a smooth dahl. When the cauliflower is tender, stir in the spinach, the dahl and the lemon juice. Simmer just until the spinach has wilted. Add salt to taste, and serve immediately.

4 to 6 servings

Coconut Basmati Rice
Moosewood Restaurant Cooks at Home, The Moosewood Collective

1 1/4 cups water
1 cup white basmati rice
1/2 cup coconut milk
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 piece cinnamon stick (1-1 1/2 inches)
1/4 cup dried currants or raisins
1 dried chile (optional) (I didn’t use)

In a heavy saucepan with a tightly fitting lid, bring the water to a boil. While the water heats, rinse the rice well. When the water boils, stir in the rice and all of the remaining ingredients. Return to a boil. Stir, cover, reduce the heat to low, and simmer for 15 minutes. Remove the cinnamon stick and the optional chile, stir to fluff the rice, and serve.

3 to 4 servings

Basmati Rice Pilaf

Basmati Rice Pilaf
A Year in a Vegetarian Kitchen, Jack Bishop

2 tablespoons unsalted butter or canola oil (I used 1 tablespoon)
1 1/2 cups basmati rice
6 whole green cardamom pods, lightly crushed, or 1 cinnamon stick
2 1/4 cups water
1 teaspoon kosher salt

Heat the butter in a medium saucepan, preferably nonstick, over medium heat until foaming. Add the cardamom pods or cinnamon stick and cook until aromatic, about 30 seconds. Add the rice and cook, stirring constantly, until the rice smells toasted but has not colored, about 3 minutes. Add the water and salt and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, cover, and cook (without opening the lid), until all the liquid has been absorbed, about 15 minutes.
Remove the pot from the heat and set aside, covered, for 10 minutes to allow the rice to finish cooking. Fluff rice with a fork and serve.
4 servings

Shredded Beef Soft Tacos

I haven’t made these in a really long time, and I’m not sure why because they are so good. If you like tacos you should definitely try these!


Shredded Beef Soft Tacos

Rick & Lanie’s Excellent Kitchen Adventures, Rick Bayless & Lanie Bayless

1 1/2 pounds stewing beef
3 cups water
Salt
1 (15-ounce) can diced tomatoes, drained
1 jalapeno or 2 serrano chiles, cut into 4 or 5 pieces (I took the seeds out to reduce the heat for the kids)
4 garlic cloves, cut in half
2 green onions, sliced
12 corn or flour tortillas

Put beef in a medium (4- to 6-quart saucepan. Add water and 1/2 teaspoon salt. set over medium heat. When the mixture boils, cover with lid slightly ajar. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until meat is fall-apart tender, about one hour.

Uncover pan and raise heat to medium-high. Pour drained tomatoes into blender or food processor. Add chopped chiles and garlic. Cover and process to a puree. Add to meat. Boil until much of the liquid has evaporated – about 15 to 20 minutes.

Add green onions and continue cooking. Mash mixture with back of spoon to break up meat while stirring – until mixture thickens and darkens, about 8 minutes. (Will begin to sizzle.) Taste and add more salt if you think necessary.

Serve with warmed tortillas.

4 servings

I served it with this Mexican rice:

Mexican Rice III

Allrecipes.com

1 cup long grain white rice
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 1/2 cups chicken broth (I used 2 cups)
1/2 onion, finely chopped
1/2 green bell pepper, finely chopped
1 fresh jalapeno pepper, chopped (I left out)
1 tomato, seeded and chopped
1 cube chicken bouillon
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1 clove garlic, halved (I minced)

In a medium sauce pan, cook rice in oil over medium heat for about 3 minutes. Pour in chicken broth, and bring to a boil. Stir in onion, green pepper, jalapeno, and diced tomato. Season with bouillon cube, salt and pepper, cumin, cilantro, and garlic. Bring to a boil, cover, and reduce heat to low. Cook for 20 minutes.

6 servings

Blueberry-Balsamic Barbecue Chicken

I love making homemade barbecue sauces, and this one did not disappoint! I sprinkled some boneless, skinless chicken thighs with some kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, and then cooked them under the broiler, brushing with the sauce at the very end of cooking. Served with rice pilaf and roasted green beans, it was a fabulous dinner.

Blueberry-Balsamic Barbecue Sauce
Cooking Light

2 cups fresh blueberries
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
3 tablespoons sugar
3 tablespoons ketchup
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon salt

Place all ingredients in a saucepan. Bring to a boil; reduce heat, and simmer 15 minutes or until slightly thick. Remove from heat; cool. Place blueberry mixture in a blender; process until smooth.
Almond Rice Pilaf
Cooking Light

1 tablespoon butter
1 teaspoon minced garlic
2 cups basmati rice, uncooked
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 (14-ounce) cans fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup slivered almonds, toasted

Melt butter in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add garlic and saute 1 minute. Add rice; saute 1 minute. Add wine; cook 1 minute or until liquid evaporates. Add salt and broth; bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and cook 20 minutes or until liquid is absorbed. Stir in lemon juice and almonds.

8 servings