Turns out it’s hard to find capsicums smaller than your face in Madrid, so Jess and I, in our efforts to cook for two, were left with half of one of these behemoths after tossing up a sweet stir-fry the other day. Desperate to avoid another pasta- or noodle-centric meal, we landed upon stuffed peppers as a solution. I’ve only ever tried making these once before, with reasonable success, following an Ottolenghi recipe to the letter. However, stranded in a foreign city without the comfort of our most treasured recipe books, we were forced (in a good way!) to improvise. And it was freaking delicious (apologies about the not great picture, but I was somewhat cynically expecting a disaster, and therefore wasn’t reaaaally that invested in the photographies), especially with a side of broccoli drenched in olive oil, garlic, chili, and lemon zest.
Although I think part of the reason this turned out so well was due to improvisation, here’s a vague idea of what ingredients we used, and what we did with them:
- 1 or 2 large capsicums (apparently the bigger the better – I prefer red, yellow, or orange for colour)
- 1 cup wild or brown rice (or some fancy blend thereof)
- 1 bay leaf
- olive oil
- 1 shallot (or small red onion), diced
- 1-2 cloves garlic, chopped finely
- 1 small zucchini, diced
- a handful of button mushrooms, diced
- a handful of cherry tomatoes, halved
- 1/2 cup frozen peas (or corn, or both!)
- 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
- 1/2 tsp corainder seeds
- 1 tsp smoked paprika (or hot, or whatever)
- 1 tsp turmeric
- a few green olives, chopped
- 50 g manchego/cheddar/feta (whatever be your jam), cubed
- a small bunch of coriander, chopped
ways of doing things
- Cook the rice (wild or brown rice can take a whiiiile, generally 30-45 minutes) with the bay leaf.
- In the meantime, cut the capsicum(s) in half lengthwise, and scoop out the viscera. Or, if you’re feeling particularly quaint, just cut off the tops so they have little lids.
- Place these on a foil-lined tray. You might want to pop a little olive oil on there to avoid stickage. While you’re at it, preheat the oven to 180C.
- Chop, dice, slice, mince, measure, or otherwise prepare your other ingredients.
- Heat a medium saucepan or frypan (without oil!), and heat the cumin and coriander seeds until lightly toasted. Then mortar and pestle the shit outta them (or do some sort of energetic dance on top of them – in a bag though. Hygiene, guys).
- Heat olive oil in the medium saucepan/frypan. Add the shallot and fry until soft, then add the garlic. After a couple minutes of gentle frying, and the zucchini, mushrooms, cherry tomatoes, peas, and spices. Stir and fry until everything is deliciously coated in spice, the tomatoes are collapsing, and the mushrooms are smelling mushroomy. Remove from heat and stir through the cooked and drained rice (which you didn’t forget about, but were monitoring the whole time, and which you also remembered to remove the bay leaf from) the olives, cheese, and coriander.
- Stuff your capsicum halves with the delicious, aromatic filling. Your oven should now well and truly be up to temperature, so if you can resist eating everything then and there, pop the (ideally almost overflowing) capsicums in the oven and let them roast for about 20 minutes, or until the rice on top is turning brown and crispy.
- Serve hot from the oven with a side of some form of greens.
- Nom the crap out the whole shebang.