When vegetables become vessels for other foods, it somehow adds to the eating pleasure.
The whole is greater than the sum of its parts, much like a one-pot meal or casserole, and you get to eat the “dish,” too.
Stuffed veggies such as squash, eggplant, tomatoes and bell peppers are very accommodating to different ingredients and seasonings, and can go in any number of directions, flavor-wise.
Meats or proteins and grains also can be switched out for a totally new taste experience. Quinoa or bulghur instead of rice, for example.
We always welcome a request for stuffed bell peppers, like the recent one from James Island, for the variety of recipes that turn up.
And if you’re doing a garden this year, be sure to tuck in a few bell pepper plants.
They like our climate, are good producers and are fairly trouble-free.
Kellyanne Burbage of Charleston responded to the request with this recipe:
Stuffed Peppers With Chicken and Cheese
Ingredients 4 large peppers, green or red
1 (12-ounce) container of frozen Stouffer’s corn souffle, thawed
1 cup fresh corn kernels 3/4 cup soft breadcrumbs
1 can chopped green chiles, drained
1/2 cup onion, finely chopped 1 tablespoon taco seasoning
2 cups shredded Monterey Jack cheese with jalapeno, divided use
Garnish: chopped cilantro Directions
Cut peppers in half lengthwise, remove seeds. Place, cut side down, on lightly greased baking sheet. Broil 6 inches below heating element for 4 to 5 minutes until peppers blister.
Combine corn souffle and next 6 ingredients, stirring in 1 cup cheese. Spoon into peppers. Bake at 375 degrees for 25 minutes. Top with remaining cheese and bake 5 to 10 minutes longer. Garnish with cilantro.
Mary Larry of Charleston passed along some recipes from “Popular Greek Recipes,” published by the Ladies Philoptochos Society of the Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church in Charleston. Shrimp season will soon be upon us, so this recipe is timely.
By the way, the church’s annual Greek Festival is coming up Mother’s Day weekend, May 11-13. Do not pass up the chance to eat upstairs in the Hellenic Center. The festival is calling it “Taverna Indoor Dining” and that’s where you’ll find homemade mousaka, spanakopita, mezethaki, baklava and other pastries.
Stuffed Peppers With Shrimp Yields 8 servings
Ingredients 2 ribs celery, finely chopped (optional)
2 onions, finely chopped 1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 pound shrimp, peeled 1 garlic clove, minced
¼ cup chopped fresh parsley ¼ cup chopped fresh mint (optional)
2 teaspoons salt ¼ teaspoon pepper
1 cup tomato sauce, divided use
1 cup long-grain rice 1½ cups water, divided use
8 to 10 bell peppers Directions
Saute celery and onions slowly in oil until soft. Add shrimp and stir until slightly browned.
Add garlic, parsley, mint, salt, pepper, ½ cup tomato sauce, rice and ½ cup water. Cover and simmer until liquid is almost absorbed.
Slice off stem of peppers. Scoop out seeds and rinse peppers in cold water. Fill peppers with shrimp stuffing and replace top. Place stuffed peppers in a baking dish. Add remaining 1 cup water and ½ cup tomato sauce. Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour, basting frequently. Add more water if necessary.
I’m long a fan of the cooking and recipes out of Moosewood restaurant in Ithaca, N.Y., which was established in 1973. The restaurant was an early and powerful apostle of creative vegetarian cuisine. This recipe is adapted from the cookbook “Moosewood Restaurant New Classics” (Clarkson-Potter, 2001).
Quinoa Stuffed Peppers Serves: 6
Ingredients 1 cup raw quinoa
6 medium bell peppers 3 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup chopped onions 3 garlic cloves, minced or pressed
11/2 teaspoons ground cumin 11/2 teaspoons ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes 1/2 teaspoon salt, or more to taste
1 cup peeled and diced carrots 3/4 cup diced celery
1 cup diced zucchini 11/2 cups fresh or frozen corn kernels
11/2 to 2 cups grated cheddar cheese
Directions Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Lightly oil a baking pan. Place the quinoa in a fine-mesh sieve and rinse well under running water. In a covered pot, bring the quinoa and 2 cups of water to a boil.
Lower the heat and simmer for about 15 minutes, until the quinoa is soft and the water absorbed. While the quinoa cooks, cut the bell peppers in half lengthwise and, leaving the stems on, seed them. Brush the bell pepper shells with about 2 tablespoons of the oil, inside and out. Place them cut side down on the prepared baking pan and roast for 15 to 20 minutes, until softened and slightly browned, but not collapsed.
When the bell peppers are roasted, reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees. Meanwhile, in a skillet, warm the remaining tablespoon of oil and saute the onions and garlic on medium heat for about 5 minutes, until the onions have softened. Stir in the cumin, coriander, red pepper flakes, salt, carrots, celery, zucchini and corn. Cover the pan and cook for about 10 minutes, until the vegetables are very tender.
Combine the sauteed vegetables and the cooked quinoa and add salt to taste.
Turn over the roasted pepper shells and spoon filling into each half.
Sprinkle each bell pepper half with some of the grated cheese and bake for 10 to 15 minutes, until the cheese is melted.
Who’s got the recipe? Harvetta Sineath of North Charleston would love to have the recipes for the potato salad served at S&S Cafeteria and the salsa at the former Cisco’s Cafeteria.
A colleague has a son who loves mangoes. She isn’t well-stocked in recipes that include mango and would like to know of dishes that readers have tried and liked.
A reader needs a recipe for Greek green beans for an upcoming dinner party. “My lost recipe included green beans, diced tomatoes, tomato sauce (?) cinnamon and other spices.”
If there’s a recipe you’ve lost, have memories of or a dish you are just wondering about, let us know. Email Food Editor Teresa Taylor at [/URL]