I had a bell pepper in my fridge, so I decided to stuff it. Stuffing a pepper isn't difficult, and it generates several meals for me with the leftovers. Normally I opt for a rice-based stuffing, and when I'm not going vegetarian, I add ground beef/pork/turkey/chicken or some type of sausage meat. But tonight I remembered that I had some whole wheat couscous in my cupboard that I could use in place of rice for a change. I also had a sweet potato that needed to be used soon, so I chopped it up and decided to roast it, and then play off its delicate sweetness with the tang from a cheese. Here's how it all came together:
Couscous Stuffed Pepper
1 whole bell pepper, cut into its sections on it seams
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 tbsp onion, finely chopped
2 large cremini mushrooms, finely chopped
1/2 cup dry whole wheat couscous
3/4 cup water
2 tbsp butter
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup tomato sauce
1/4 cup parmesan cheese
1/3 cup grated marble cheese (or mozzarella, or cheddar, whatever your taste)
Preheat the oven to 350F. Grease a flat baking dish or sheet, and arrange the sections of the bell pepper on the dish, insides facing up. Melt 1 tbsp of the butter over medium-high heat and sauté the garlic, onion, and mushrooms, seasoning with salt and pepper, for 5 minutes or until soft.
While sautéing the vegetables, bring the water to a boil in a small pot. Once boiling, add the couscous, stir, cover, and let sit for 3 minutes.
Add the vegetables to the couscous along with the other 1 tbsp of butter and stir together over low heat. Add the tomato sauce and parmesan cheese. Stir together so it forms a paste-like mixture. Remove from heat.
(*Side note: at this point I got worried about how the couscous turned into a paste with the addition of the tomato sauce. I always add tomato sauce when I use a rice stuffing, so I figured I'd do the same with the couscous. So don't be alarmed by the paste - it all tastes wonderful in the end!)
Spread the couscous mixture into the peppers. Mound any extra on top. Top each pepper with a sprinkling of the grated marble cheese.
Put the stuffed peppers in the oven and bake for 20 minutes.
Roasted Sweet Potatoes with Herbed Goat's Cheese
1 sweet potato, chopped into bite-size chunks
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp balsamic vinegar
salt and pepper to season
Goat's cheese to taste
Preheat the oven to 400F. Toss the chopped sweet potato, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt, and pepper in a bowl to fully coat each chunk of potato. Arrange in a single layer on a baking sheet. Roast for 20 minutes, turning once at 10 minutes.
Move the roasted potatoes into a bowl, and add crumbled Goat's cheese to taste.
It's a fabulous juxtaposition of flavours: the light sweetness of the potato with the browned bits from roasting and the tangy but smooth Goat's cheese. I bought an herb-covered log of the Goat's cheese which adds even more flavour. Together, these two dishes made for a stellar vegetarian night. I got a healthy, satisfying dinner (with lots of leftovers!), and I had fun experimenting in my kitchen.
I don't have much of an explanation of my beats for this post. The only reason I'm choosing this song is because it came on the radio while I was cooking. And, because I like it. And also, because I made stuffed peppers. Here's Under the Bridge by the Red Hot Chili Peppers.