Saturday, January 14, 2012

Rice and Garbanzo Bean Stuffed Peppers

I love stuffed peppers.  I really do.  I'm sure I would love other stuffed foods like tomatoes, zucchini, etc.  I know I like stuffed mushrooms and cabbage too.  Stuffed foods are really fun and homey and so simple to make.  I have always thought that my mom used to make them, which is why I love them so much and make so many different varieties.  I was making a variation of them for the family I cook for about a week ago, and I was running late and wanted to expedite the process.  So I called my my mum and asked her advice.  I was very surprised when she informed me that she never made us stuffed peppers or stuffed anything as kids, yet I distinctly remember eating them at home.  Of course, at the time they were filled with white rice and ground beef.  I asked her several times if she was sure she wasn't mistaken, but she was adamant.  I'm just wondering where or whom the hell I ate these peppers with that I distinctly remember eating as a child. 

It's so strange how you have memories of things that happened when you were a kid that actually didn't happen as you remember them.  Such a strange thing.  There is one particular incidence I have in mind that happened when I was about five.  I have an older sister who is over 10 years older than me and shared a room with me for several years when I was very young.  Have I ever mentioned that I am one of 6 kids?  I know it sounds crazy in this day and age, but I loved and still love every moment of it.  Well, one day my sister was cleaning our room, tossing all of my/ "our" toys into the toy boxes in the closet.  I was in the closet, going after a Cabbage Patch doll (did those things really ever exist?!) she had just thrown in the box, and I had the misfortune to stand up as she was tossing in a Barbie doll horse with sharp hooves.  Of course the hoof gashed the side of my head and cut it open.  I didn't cry until I saw that my hand came away covered in blood.  My mom took me to the hospital and I remember being a very good girl, and being rewarded by the doctors with a small stuffed smiley face and then later with some bubble gum by the foot from my mom.  When I brought up the incidence many many years later, my mom told me I was actually the worst in the hospital - screaming at the top of my lungs, crying, making a huge fuss, and just generally being a hideous pain.  Funny right?  Because I truly remember it happening that I was a good girl.  Long way of saying it's funny how you remember things differently than they actually happened, right?  I'll have to figure out where it is that I first ate those stuffed peppers.  It's driving me crazy that I don't know how it is I fell in love with them!

Stuffed Peppers:

The Cooked Pepper Filling

Serves 4

Stuffed Peppers:
4 medium peppers, assorted colors tops removed, insides scraped out and tops reserved
1/2 cup green pepper, small diced (from reserved tops of peppers)
1/4 cup orange pepper, small diced (reserved from top of peppers)
1 medium onion, small diced, about 1 cup
2 stalks celery, small diced, about 3/4 cup
2 small carrots, small diced, about 3/4 cup
1 jalapeno pepper, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups cooked white or brown rice
1 cup cooked chickpeas
2 tablespoons sofrito
2 teaspoons vegetable bouillion powder
1/4 teaspoon cumin
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
1/8 teaspoon chipotle pepper powder
Daiya, for top of pepper, optional

1.  Place a wok on the stove over medium-high heat.  Add the oil and allow it to become hot.  Once it is hot, add the green, orange and jalapeno peppers, onion and celery.  Saute for several minutes, or until veggies are crisp-tender.  Add the minced garlic and cook until fragrant.
2.  Add the sofrito, boullion, cumin, black pepper and chipotle pepper powder.  Stir to coat the veggies.  Add the cooked rice and cooked garbanzo beans.  Stir all ingredients to coat.  Season to taste. 
3.  Place the empty peppers into a pan that has been lightly oiled.  Portion out the filling into the peppers, really packing it tightly into the pepper.  Only three of my peppers could fit into a square 8" baking pan, and my 9x13" pan was busy with a casserole, so I baked my peppers in batches.
4.  To help the peppers cook faster and more thoroughly, place about 2/3 cup of water in the bottom of the baking pan.  Cover the pan tightly with aluminum foil and bake for 25-35 minutes, or until the peppers can be easily pierced with a fork. 

The Raw Stuffed Pepper, Bottom of Pan Covered in Water

5.  If you would like, once the peppers are soft, remove the foil, top with daiya and return to the oven for about 5 minutes, or until the cheese melts.  These, you really should let cool for at least 10 minutes, because the peppers themselves will retain a lot of heat.  Once these cooled, I put them into leftover plastic 1 lb. deli containers - they fit perfectly, and were an easy, secure way for the Hubby to transport them to work for lunch the next day.



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