Thursday, June 16, 2011

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.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Pesto Pasta with Chickpeas and Tomatoes

I wanted to make something to use up some pesto I had in the fridge, and after looking through a few cookbooks I decided on this recipe. The pesto is mixed with some of the pasta cooking water and tossed with the pasta, and then the pasta is topped with a delicious tomato-chickpea sauce.

This was a very tasty meal that came together really quickly, making it great for a weeknight dinner.

Pesto Pasta with Chickpeas and Tomatoes
366 Delicious Ways to Cook Rice, Beans, and Grains, Andrea Chesman

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 shallots, minced
4 garlic cloves, minced
4 cups diced vine-ripened or canned tomatoes
1 cup dry white wine
1 cup chicken or vegetable broth
1/2 teaspoon hot red pepper flaked (I used just a dash)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 cups cooked chickpeas, drained (I used canned)
1 pound orecchiette or shells
1/2 cup store-bought or homemade pesto

In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium-low heat. Add the shallots and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until the shallots are translucent, about 3 minutes. Increase the heat to high. Add the tomatoes, wine, and both, and cook until the sauce thickens, about 10 minutes. Add the hot pepper flakes and season to taste with salt and pepper. Add the chickpeas and cook another 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, cook the pasta until just al dente. Drain well, reserving a few tablespoons of the cooking liquid to thin down the pesto. Place the pasta in a large serving bowl. Thin the pesto with the reserved cooking liquid, add the pesto sauce to the pasta, and toss well.

To serve, spoon the pasta into individual bowls. Top with the tomato-chickpea mixture. Serve at once.

4-6 servings

(Based on 4 serving:) 795 Calories, 26 grams Protein, 18.9 grams Fat, 1mg Cholesterol, 9 grams Dietery fiber, 243 mg Sodium, 108 mg Calcium