Here’s another blast from the recipe archive past for you, because I’m on my second business trip of two weeks and have barely cooked in days. And also because I love looking at my beautiful granite countertops from my old condo. Sigh. I haven’t made this recipe in a LONG time and now I’m thinking of picking up the ingredients next time I hit the market. Stuffed peppers are one of my favorite foods… Hope you enjoy these!
This dinner started out planned, in my menu notebook, as Zucchini and Orzo Stuffed Peppers, a Giada de Laurentiis recipe. But then a certain someone – who shall remain nameless – threw out my zucchini. He thought it was a weird cucumber, apparently. This sort of thing happens occasionally – little elves raid my produce drawer – and fortunately, I was prepared this time. A few quick adjustments, some fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants sauteeing, and I had some incredibly delicious Eggplant and Orzo Stuffed Peppers on my hands. You know what? I like eggplant better anyway.
Eggplant and Orzo Stuffed Peppers
2 Japanese eggplants, peeled and finely diced
4 Roma tomatoes, coarsely diced
1/4 cup full-bodied red wine, such as Cab or Zin (2012 edit: or sub mushroom broth)
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/3 cup + 4 teaspoons freshly grated Parmesan
1/2 cup orzo
Kosher salt and cracked pepper to taste
4 red bell peppers
4 teaspoons Italian-seasoned breadcrumbs
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit and simultaneously begin heating vegetable oil (a moderate amount) in a saute pan, and water in a saucepan. Add the diced eggplant to the saucepan, season with salt, and saute until browned and crispy in parts, soft in others.
- Add red wine – not too much, just enough to deglaze the pan. Stir eggplant around and be careful to scoop up the browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Add cracked pepper and dried oregano.
- Meanwhile, cook orzo until al dente, according to the instructions on the box. Drain and reserve.
- When eggplant starts to smell too divine for words (it’s a scientific process), add diced tomato and stir just until warm. Dump the whole mess into a bowl and stir in 1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan and orzo.
- Prepare the red peppers – slice off the top (and if necessary, a tiny sliver from the bottom so the peppers will stand upright in the baking dish). Carefully cut out the ribs and remove the seeds, but don’t bother being too terribly precise.
- Scoop the eggplant and orzo filling into the red pepper shells. Top with breadcrumbs, remaining Parmesan, and a drizzle of olive oil on each pepper.
- Bake at 375 degrees Fahrenheit for 20-25 minutes, until tops are golden and peppers are slightly soft. Let cool slightly before serving.
- Garnish with chopped fresh chives, if desired.
Yield: Serves 4 moderately hungry people (with sides) or 2 very hungry people.
Source: Adapted from Giada’s Kitchen, by Giada de Laurentiis
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Despite the title of this blog, I am actually something of a neat freak. Although I do flail about and throw flour everywhere while I bake, I’m an extremely tidy cook and am very conscientious about cleaning my condo – particularly the kitchen, since I spend so much of my time there. But one cleaning chore that I geniunely hate is cleaning the refrigerator – especially the dreaded produce drawers. Mostly, I hate doing this because it bums me out. I end up throwing so much away – mostly vegetables that were intended for dinners which never materialized, because I worked late or came home exhausted or forgot about happy hour plans I had made when I wrote my weekly menu. Throwing that stuff away makes me sad, partly because I hate to waste anything (especially money, and since I shop at Whole Paycheck, it really is like tossing cash down the drain) and because I was really looking forward to those dinners that never happened.
The solution? Make something out of nothing. I’m good at this – you should have seen my 1L Torts outline.
I don’t always succeed, but I try not to get to the point where I have to throw food away. Instead, once a week I try to do a fridge-clearing meal and actually use those vegetables that would otherwise be thrown out on the next market day. Because I like alliteration and keeping my husband on his toes, I come up with cute, catch-all names for the dinners, like “Pantry Pasta” or “Fridge Frittata” so that he never knows what he’s going to get for dinner that night. (Evil laughter.) These dinners don’t really take to being written down in recipe form, but here’s one I made recently. Alter as you see fit, depending on what’s languishing in your vegetable drawer…
Roasted Vegetable Pasta Sauce
2 Japanese eggplants
1 red bell pepper
1 orange bell pepper
1 cup shredded carrot
1 28-ounce can crushed San Marzano tomatoes
1 teaspoon light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1 dried bay leaf
1/4 cup grated Parmesan
2 tablespoons light cream (optional)
salt and pepper to taste
- Cut eggplants and peppers into medium-sized chunks. Toss on a baking sheet with extra-virgin olive oil, kosher salt and pepper. Roast in a 450 degree oven for approximately 40-45 minutes (keep an eye on it) tossing halfway through.
- Bring remaining ingredients to a simmer over medium-low heat. Stir in roasted vegetables and simmer together 20 minutes. Remove bay leaf.
- Process in a blender or in the pot with an immersion blender until sauce reaches the consistency you prefer. Stir in Parmesan cheese and cream, if using, and season to taste with salt and pepper.
You can serve this over any pasta that you happen to have in your pantry. I served it over whole wheat spaghettini, but it would also work well with linguine, penne, rigatoni or cavatappi, either classic or whole wheat.
Source: Covered In Flour
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