Bell peppers stuffed with rice and currants
Makes 4 servings
Vegetables filled with a meat and/or rice mixture are popular in Turkish cooking. Here's another recipe for bell peppers. They hold a meatless blend of herbed rice with pine nuts and currants. Offer one for a main-course serving, or use smaller bell peppers and serve as an accompaniment to grilled meat or fish. The rice filling can be served on its own as an unusual side dish.
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup coarsely chopped onion
¼ cup pine nuts
2 cups long-grain white rice
One 15-ounce can crushed tomatoes, with purèe
¼ cup dried currants
3 tablespoons minced fresh mint
tablespoons minced fresh dill or 1 teaspoon dried dill
½ teaspoon freshly ground pepper, or to taste
½ teaspoon salt, or to taste
½ teaspoon ground allspice
4 large green or red bell peppers
Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the onions and pine nuts; stir until the onions are translucent, about 8 minutes. Reduce the heat to low; add the rice and stir until it is lightly coated with oil. Stir in the tomatoes with purèe, currants, mint, dill, pepper, salt, and allspice. Cover and simmer until the liquid is absorbed, about 25 minutes.
While the rice mixture is cooking, preheat the oven to 350° F. Oil a 13X9X2-inch glass baking dish. Cut 1 inch off the stem end of each pepper; reserve for caps. Remove the seeds.
When the rice is tender, taste and adjust the seasoning. Fill each pepper with about 1 cup of the rice; top with the reserved caps. Place the peppers in the prepared dish. Oil a large piece of foil; cover the dish with the foil.
Bake for about 50 minutes or until the peppers are tender.
The rice mixture can be cooked up to 2 days in advance; cover and refrigerate. Bring the rice to room temperature, stuff the bell peppers, and bake just before serving.
Paulette Mitchell, a culinary instructor, television personality, spokesperson, freelance food writer, and the award-winning author of 13 cookbooks, is known internationally for her quick-to-prepare recipes with gourmet flair. Paulette's most recently published cookbook is "The Complete 15-Minute Gourmet: Creative Cuisine Made Fast and Fresh." She is also the author of "A Beautiful Bowl of Soup" and "The Spirited Vegetarian," which was voted "Best Book in the World on Cooking with Wine" at the 2005 Gourmand World Media Awards. Paulette says that international travel is her favorite source of culinary inspiration.