It’s lovely having friends over for dinner, but what do you cook if someone is Vegetarian? If you’re stuck for inspiration on how to wow your meat-free guest with a dish that doesn’t involve tofu or anything weird, look no further.
Stuffed Peppers, Mediterranean style, is one of those dishes that works every time. It doesn’t need meat to be delicious, it looks great on a plate – perhaps accompanied by a simple Tricolore Salad – and it’s nutritious and healthy too.
What’s more, if, like me, you’re a fan of the ‘minimum effort, maximum effect’ school of cooking, this dish scores top points. Add a few bells and whistles to a simple pasta sauce and voila – the rest is little more than an assembly job. The whole thing can be prepared well in advance, and baked in the oven, leaving your kitchen worktops looking sleek and uncluttered as you pour the welcome drinks for your guests. What’s not to like?
Ingredients (serves 4-6): You will need: 8 large peppers, 150g long grain rice (cooked), 1 onion, 3 garlic cloves, 2 carrots, 1 celery stick, 1 can (400g) kidney beans, 1 can (400g) chopped tomatoes, 1 handful pitted olives, 25g pine nuts, 50g parmesan cheese (grated), some olive oil for frying, Mediterranean herbs (oregano, basil, rosemary, thyme, parsley, Italian mix – your choice), 2 tbsp pesto sauce (optional), salt and pepper.
Method: Preheat the oven to 180C. Cook the rice as per instructions, then set aside. Slice the top off each pepper and keep for later use. Clean out the insides, then arrange all peppers in a deep ovenproof casserole dish, making sure they are tight against each other and cannot fall over.
Gently fry garlic and onions in a little olive oil until glassy, then add the celery and fry for another 5 minutes. Stir in the kidney beans, tomatoes, pesto and herbs and bring to a boil. Next, add the cooked rice, pine nuts and olives, making sure the mixture is not too runny. Season well.
Fill each pepper with the rice mixture and top with parmesan, then put the pepper ‘lids’ on and add a drizzle of olive oil. Bake for 45 minutes and serve hot.