"Time you enjoy wasting is not wasted time." Marthe Troly-Curtin

Friday, April 23, 2010

Stuffed Bell Peppers with Feta and Herbs

By Kate Ramos

Green bell peppers taste great with this stuffing: Their sweetness plays off that of the golden raisins, and the vegetal note is heightened by the herbs. These are an excellent option for a vegetarian meal, yet double as a side dish even carnivores will love.

What to buy: Look for bell peppers that are all about the same size; cooking time and portions will be more consistent that way.

Game plan: If you stuff the peppers ahead of time, take them out of the fridge 30 minutes before grilling to let them come to room temperature.

Total Time: 1 hr 45 mins

Active Time: 30 mins

Makes: 6 servings as a meal (12 servings as a side dish)

1 cup uncooked basmati rice
1 1/2 cups water
1-inch-long piece cinnamon
2 1/4 teaspoons kosher salt
6 medium green bell peppers
3/4 cup cream cheese (about 6 ounces), at room temperature
1 1/2 cups crumbled feta cheese (about 7 ounces)
3/4 cup golden raisins
1/3 cup finely chopped fresh mint leaves
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh dill leaves
2 tablespoons finely chopped Italian parsley leaves
Juice of 1 medium lemon (about 3 tablespoons)
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1.. Place rice in a colander or a fine mesh sieve and rinse under cold running water until the water runs clear. Combine rice, water, cinnamon, and 3/4 teaspoon of the salt in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil over high heat. Cover the pan and reduce heat to low; cook until water has been completely absorbed, about 10 minutes (rice will be slightly undercooked). Remove the lid from the pot, discard cinnamon stick, and set the pot aside to let rice cool.
2.. To prepare peppers for stuffing, use a paring knife to cut a wide circle around each stem (like when carving a jack-o'-lantern), so you end up with a cap that can be replaced once you've stuffed the peppers. Be careful not to puncture or rip the peppers. Clean any seeds and membranes from the cap and from the interior of each pepper; set aside.
3.. In a large mixing bowl, beat cream cheese with a wooden spoon until it's light and fluffy. Stir in feta, raisins, mint, dill, parsley, lemon juice, pepper, and remaining salt. Add reserved cooked rice, and mix gently to combine. Taste mixture and, if necessary, add more salt and freshly ground black pepper. (Note that the filling should be quite salty to compensate for there being no salt on the peppers.)
4.. Divide rice mixture into six equal portions. Stuff each pepper with the filling and replace each cap, pressing caps into the stuffing so the peppers remain closed while on the grill; set aside until ready to cook. (If you're stuffing the peppers more than 30 minutes before grilling, cover and refrigerate them. Let peppers sit at room temperature at least 30 minutes before grilling so that they cook faster and more evenly.)
5.. Heat a charcoal or gas grill to medium heat (about 350°F). Once the grill is heated, place stuffed peppers on their sides and close the lid. Roll each pepper a quarter turn every 7 minutes or so to cook all four sides. The peppers are finished once the filling is hot, the skins are well-charred, and the flesh is soft to the touch, about 30 minutes. If serving as a side dish, slice peppers in half lengthwise.

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