The Recipes

Oh, go stuff yourself

I'm trying to incorporate more vegetarian dishes into my diet.  (Meat lovers, don't despair.  I'll be back on the hog train tomorrow.  I will never live a day of life in which I don't think that bacon makes everything better.)

In the meantime, though, one of the biggest challenges of meeting a monthly budget is finding affordable ingredients that are still lovely and satisfying.  I have to make a conscious effort to not blow my food budget between the butcher and the cheese shop every week.  And, given the latest money debate in Washington, D.C., I bring you:

Debt-ceiling Stuffed Peppers


- Two bell peppers; whatever you have on hand, or pick your favorite (or whatever is cheapest and looks the best)
- 1/2 can diced tomatoes
- 1 c. orzo pasta, cooked according to package instructions; I highly recommend cooking it in stock instead of water if you have it on hand
- 1/4 of an onion, chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, minced or grated
- 1/4 c. grated parmesan cheese (don't waste the good parmigiano reggiano here)
- 1/2 c. whatever veg you have on hand; I used a handful of finely chopped button mushrooms
- Fresh chopped mint and flat-leaf parsley for garnish

The beauty of this dish, of stuffed vegetables in general, is you can use whatever you have on hand.  Pancetta, sausage, leftover diced chicken?  All excellent additions.  Don't have orzo on hand?  Use any small cut grain or pasta, such as pastina or cous cous of any variety. 

Let's get started:

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

Put your stock (or water) on the stove and bring to a boil to cook the orzo. 

In the meantime, in a medium saucepan, heat approximately one T. of oil; add in your chopped onions.  Allow to sweat for 3-4 minutes, then add the garlic and mushrooms.  Salt and pepper; sautee for 3-4 more minutes.  Add the can of tomatoes.  Combine all ingredients, and stir in the cooked orzo.

At some point while sauteeing the vegetables, your orzo should have been ready.  Drain it, and add (as mentioned directly above) to the vegetables.  Add in the parmesan cheese.  Stir all ingredients to combine, adding the fresh mint in the last stirring.

Take the bell peppers, and finely slice the bottome off of each.  This will help them to stand up in the baking  dish.  Put each pepper in your oven-ready dish and stuff them with the orzo/vegetable mixture.  Pop them into the oven for 20-22 minutes. 

I chose not to put a cheesy crust on top to save calories, but on another occasion, I certainly would.  Please do if that's the mood that strikes you!