The stuffed peppers I remember from childhood were green, filled with ground beef, rice, and tomatoes, and a staple at church potlucks. Warm, filling, comforting, and starchy—a classic American dish. But Americans aren't the only ones who saw a bell pepper and thought "edible bowl." It seems that you can stuff a pepper with just about anything. In this recipe, from Andrew Schloss's Homemade in a Hurry, it's a couscous and chickpea mixture spiced with Moroccan flavors, and inside the pepper waits a molten nugget of goat cheese.
If the whole stuffing-a-pepper enterprise doesn't appeal, it's not critical—the flavors of the dish are what shine, not necessarily the presentation. In fact, next time I might skip the stuffing approach and slap the peppers down on the burner to char them, slip off the skins, then chop them up and mix in with the couscous. It would take less time and taste just as comforting. But it might be a little less fun.
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 large onion, diced
- 1 large carrot, peeled and grated
- 1 teaspoon coriander seed, ground
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 14 ounces vegetable broth (or substitute chicken)
- 1 cup chickpeas, drained and rinsed if canned
- 3/4 cup couscous
- 2 red bell peppers, split lengthwise, seeds and membranes removed
- 6 ounces fresh goat cheese (chèvre)
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Over medium heat, sauté the onion and carrot in the olive oil until tender but not browned, 4-5 minutes. Add the spices and stir, cooking for about two minutes to allow the flavors to marry.
Arrange the pepper halves in a baking dish so they are snug. Pour the remaining broth in the bottom of the dish.
Spoon 1/4 cup of the couscous mixture into each pepper half, then nestle an ounce of goat cheese into the center. Distribute the remaining couscous mixture amongst the peppers, pressing down to fill the corners, and top with the remaining goat cheese.
Cover the dish tightly with tinfoil and bake until steamed and tender, about 30 minutes. Remove the foil and cook for an additional 5 minutes, or broil briefly to brown the tops.