Feb 7, 2014
Hillary

Orzo-Veggie Stuffed Peppers

Orzo-Veggie Stuffed Pepper

 

I used to be known as the chicken girl. My freshman year of college, there were slim pickings at our cafeteria so I would go to the grill area and ask them to cook a grilled chicken breast for me and I quickly earned the nickname of “grilled chicken girl” from all the guys working the grill. I’ve even received a cookbook that was completely all chicken recipes. While we still have chicken at least once a week, over the past few months Jor and I have actually been eating more vegetarian meals. There is something about a plate full of fresh, colorful vegetables that is completely satisfying in every way possible. These stuffed peppers in particular are so easy to put together but they make a weeknight meal feel a little fancy. Fancy looking without all the trouble; sounds good to me!

Here’s what you need.

Ingredients:

(Adapted from Giada de Laurentils. Makes 2 stuffed peppers with 1 small casserole leftover.)

  • 2 bell peppers (red or yellow)
  • 1 14 oz can whole tomatoes
  • 1 medium zucchini, grated
  • 1/4 cup fresh mint, chopped
  • 1/4 cup freshly grated Pecorino Romano
  • 1/8 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 cups chicken broth (no sodium)
  • 3/4 cup uncooked orzo pasta
  • basil for topping

(Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.) Start by grating the zucchini. I used my food processor with the blade attachment to grate the zucchini and this was not only speedy and less work for me but helped eliminate a lot of the liquid that you can get when grating zucchini. But if you are without a food processor, a large hand held grater will totally do the trick. Once grated, let the zucchini sit for just a minute. Now is also a good time to start the orzo. Add the chicken broth to a small pot and bring to a boil over high heat. Let the orzo cook for 4 minutes. You don’t want to cook it all the way since it will spending some time in the oven. After four minutes, drain the orzo and save the chicken broth. I found it easiest to drain the orzo over the pan I was planning on cooking the peppers in (a bread loaf pan).

In a large mixing bowl, pour in the tomatoes and crush them using your hands or a large potato masher. I always use the large potato masher. Add the zucchini, chopped mint, cheese, olive oil, minced garlic, salt and pepper. Stir everything together. Once your orzo is done, add it to this bowl of veggies.

Pepper Filling

 

Cut the tops off of the peppers. You want to cut the thinest slice that you can and then remove the all the ribs and seeds. If you have a few seeds that just won’t get out, swish some water around and it should pour right out. Test how well the peppers stand before you fill them up. If they are a little wobbly, slice off a very thin slice from the bottom to help the peppers stand up but be sure not cut cut a hole in the bottom!

Prepared Pepper

 

Spoon the orzo-veggie mixture into each pepper and fill to the top. Place the peppers in your baking dish with the chicken broth. I had leftover orzo-veggie mixture so I put it in a small oven-safe casserole dish and cooked it just as I did the peppers. It made for a great lunch the next day!

Pepper Stuffed

 

Cover the baking dish with tinfoil and bake in the oven for 45 minutes. Take the peppers out of the oven, remove the tinfoil and sprinkle the top of each pepper with more Pecorino Romano or Parmesan. Let the peppers cook for another 15 minutes until the cheese melts and begins to golden.

Stuffed Peppers Done

 

Top each pepper with fresh basil and they are ready to eat! To round out the meal, I paired the peppers with a spicy green bean and kale mixture and homemade thyme dinner rolls.

Pepper, green beens and roll

 

Most of the work on this meal comes at the beginning but even that requires little chopping and more mixing. Once you have the peppers together you have about an hour to multi-task and get some other things done will the peppers do their thing in the oven. You could do a lot of different vegetable sides with these to make the dinner even easier. You could roast asparagus or broccoli and make this an all-oven dinner or make a simple side salad. If you have someone who is not a fan of peppers, like I said previously, just bake the orzo-veggie mixture in a small baking dish and it will taste just as delicious! The mixture is also extremely adaptable. If you want to add some meat, such as sausage, go for it! Or add some different shredded veggies. Make this your own and fill the pepper with all your favorites! For now, that’s orzo-veggie stuffed peppers…in the shell of a nut!

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