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Waiter, there’s something in my eye…

May 25, 2007

Stuffed Peppers

Those are tears, because this dinner is not only my entry in this month’s WTSIM event, but our sad good bye dinner to our dear, loved, and lovely housemate, Alex, who is graduating from law school today and setting out for Texas and lawyering. We decided to pull out all the stops with much prosecco and mojitos, and a great big celebratory dinner. I decided on stuffed peppers because I’d been thinking of them for weeks, and they were sufficiently elegant and could easily be made sans meat for our non-meateating Alex.

They were quite a hit, and I must say one of the best things to have graced our kitchen table in recent months. Sure, I spent two hours in the kitchen, but they were relatively leisurely hours and all the my pains were quickly forgotten as we moved into our second bottle of prosecco, and our third toast to all of the ginormous changes coming up in all of our lives.

I even decided to take this whole stuffed theme one step further and make deviled eggs. I had, in fact, only eaten a deviled egg once in my life so I wasn’t even sure what the heck I was doing, but they were freaking awesome. I suspect this will be the summer of deviled eggs, because I have a new addiction, people. I can’t believe I didn’t eat these growing up, as it seems everyone else in the world did. Mom, were you anti-deviled egg? Are we a non-deviled egg family? Is there something going on here that you never concocted these delicacies for our many, many family gatherings? Or did I just refuse to eat them, as the picky, picky child I was? That is, actually, probably more likely the case. Thank god I got over that.

Devilish Deviled Eggs

I found myself curious as to why they are called deviled eggs. I assumed it had something to do with spice, and I was correct. The term originally applied to anything prepared with hot spices, and despite the fact that most deviled egg recipes now don’t include any particularly spicy ingredients, the name stuck.

These deviled eggs are not spicy at all.

Laura’s First Attempt at Deviled Eggs

  • 3 hard-boiled eggs
  • about 1 T. mayonnaise, maybe a bit more
  • 1 T. Maille or dijon mustard (though I’d go with the Maille if I were you)
  • 1/2 a stalk of celery, minced as fine as you can get it
  • a sprinkle of salt and pepper
  • a pinch of dried oregano

I’m not sure how much I really need to explain, as this is really pretty basic. Slice the hard-boiled eggs in half and remove the yolks to a bowl. Getting the yolks out was trickier than I expected, because some of them were treacherously close to the outside edge of the egg whites, but I managed to do it with very little damage. Then you basically want to mash the yolks up with everything else and use whatever implements are at hand to put them back into the hollows of the eggs, about a tablespoon per egg. That was also a bit tricky, and possibly some kind of pastry bag would have made it easier, but again, I managed with very little damage. And then I was crazy happy, because they are gooood.

I found my stuffed pepper recipe at Epicurious, and only changed it up a little bit. I was originally planning to serve them on a bed of polenta, but after I made them I realized that they were plenty substantial on their own and the polenta was deemed unnecessary. I also found a recipe for Roasted Red Pepper sauce to top them, and Alex made a big, fresh spinach salad that created a perfect place to rest the tasty peppers.

Roasted Red Pepper Sauce

This recipe was also jacked from Epicurious, with only a tiny modification made by me. It’s very easy and pretty amazing. I think I could have thinned it just a bit to make it easier to pour, but the flavors were perfect as it was. You can make this first, and set it aside while you finish stuffing your peppers. Heh. Heh heh.

  • 1/2 a small onion
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2-3 roasted red peppers, depending on size (I used jarred–once chopped you should have a little less than a cup)
  • 2 T. chopped fresh basil
  • 3 T. olive oil
  • a splash of balsamic vinegar
  • salt and pepper

Saute the onion in about a tablespoon of olive oil, until it starts to soften. This will take a few minutes, and again, you pretty much want to throw the onions in the pan and leave them alone. Maybe stir them twice, but let them sit so they can caramelize a little. Then add the garlic and saute it all together for about another minute, and remove it all from the heat.

Chop up the roasted red peppers, and put them in a food processor. Add the onion mixture, the basil, a bit of balsamic, and the salt and pepper, and then run the processor, adding the remaining olive oil, about two tablespoons, in a slow stream. You can keep processing until you have the consistency you want. I left mine just a little bit chunky. Now you can set it aside until you’re ready for pouring. Or dipping. Or putting on eggs or bruschetta. This stuff is good and you can use it for tons and tons of different tasty things.

Stuffed Peppers are so good

Couscous and Feta Stuffed Peppers

  • 1 c. vegetable broth
  • 3/4 c. uncooked couscous
  • 1 T. olive oil
  • 1/2 a small onion, chopped
  • 1 small zucchini, sliced thinly
  • about 1 c. cremini mushrooms, de-stemmed if you prefer, and sliced thinly
  • a pinch of fennel seeds
  • a pinch of oregano
  • a sprinkle of salt and pepper
  • 1 c. cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 15-ounce can of chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 1/2 c. crumbled feta (I found sheep’s milk feta and it was delicious)
  • 4 large bell peppers. I wanted to use red, but the red peppers were all tiny babies. I had to buy green, but they ended up being much sweeter than I expected.

Preheat the oven to 350F. Heat the vegetable stock in a small saucepan until boiling, then remove it from the heat, stir in the couscous, cover, and let it sit for at least five minutes.

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet (and you definitely want large), and add the onions and mushrooms. Spread it all out across the bottom of the skillet, and then walk away and let it cook for about four or five minutes. Then come back and stir it up and add the zucchini, and the fennel, oregano, salt, and pepper. Saute this all together for another two or three minutes, until the zucchini starts to soften, then remove the skillet from the heat.

Stuffing tasty enough to eat on its own

Set a big pot of water on to boil. Meanwhile, fluff the couscous with a fork and mix it into the mushroom mixture. Add in the chickpeas and tomatoes, and stir it all together. Lightly oil a baking dish that’s big enough to just fit all of the peppers.

Cut the tops off the peppers and pull out the seeds and all the membranes. Once the water is boiling, add the peppers and let them cook for about five minutes. Then take them out of the boiling water with some tongs and set them in the baking dish. Let them cool off for a bit before you try doing anything else to them.

Hallowed Peppers

Add the feta to the couscous mixture, stir it all together, and carefully scoop it all into the peppers. Stick them in the oven for about 15 minutes, and you’re done. Serve them on a bed of spinach or other leafy greens, and drizzle the red pepper sauce all over everything. Then eat it and be happy. Or sad, like we are, to be saying good bye to the best housemate a girl could have. We will miss you like big kinds of crazy, Ms. Alex!!!

Now, go on with you and visit the rest of lovely people participating in Waiter, there’s something in my… 

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