Tuesday, 4 June 2013

Oven-baked Stuffed Veggies


You can prepare stuffed food in a thousand ways, I guess, using as many ingredients as you can imagine. In the end, all depends on your skill and patience (I had marvellous stuffed courgette flowers once in Greece and, being the opposite of patient, would never DREAM of preparing those; and I’d rather not recommend stuffed peas either, not even to the secret Dalai Lamas amongst you out there). Most readers will probably read the recipe and think—or even say—that I’m a complete dunce for writing about stuffed vegetables when, in fact, all of the veggies I’m going to use are fruits. Yes, for those who ignore it, tomatoes, Bell peppers and zucchini are NOT veggies but fruits. If you don’t believe me, go check out the corresponding Wikipedia articles or ask your nearest botanist. Well, I do know that fact but let’s, for the convenience and brevity of this post, not quibble—it does get rather annoying to write “stuffed vegetables that are in fact fruits” all the time. Allow me two or three last side-remarks. First, I prefer to use green Bell peppers because the yellow and red ones are too sweet for my taste. They’re perfect for other recipes but not exactly for this one. Second thing, many recipes would use uncooked rice for the stuffing because it is supposed to cook in the veggies. I prefer to cook my rice, thank you very much, because mine never ever gets properly cooked in the process. Delish stuffed veggies with hard rice in them is not my idea of a perfect dinner. Oh, and last but not least, I have to warn you that these are not stuffed veggie veggies. I use meat. And now in media res… 

What you need: 
  • 4 big green Bell peppers 
  • 4 round zucchini (not the longish ones) 
  • 4 big tomatoes 
  • 1 onion, chopped 
  • 500 g of minced pork 
  • Parsley, chopped 
  • A glass of rice, cooked 
  • Salt, Pepper 
  • Paprika 
  • Breadcrumbs 
  • Grated cheese 
  • Worcestershire Sauce (1 spoonful) 
  • 1 egg (optional) 
  • Olive oil 
How to proceed: 
  • Cook your rice as indicated on the package. 
  • Cut the upper part of your veggies (where the stem is). Don’t throw these parts, keep them. 
  • With a spoon, delicately scrape out the zucchini and tomatoes. 
  • Chop the cut out parts and put them in a huge bowl. 
  • Cut out the seeds of the Bell peppers (these you can throw away). 
  • Drizzle some olive oil in a big oven-proof dish. 
  • Place the empty veggies in that dish. 
  • Add the minced pork, chopped parsley and onion, the cooked rice, some bread crumbs, salt, pepper, paprika, the grated cheese and the spoonful of Worcestershire Sauce to the cut veggie parts. 
  • Preheat your oven, 200°C, 10 minutes. 
  • Mix the stuffing with your hands or a spoon. 
  • You can add an egg if you want; I prefer to prepare my stuffing without. 
  • Stuff your veggies. 
  • Put the upper part that you’ve cut away earlier on top of each vegetable. 
  • Drizzle some more olive oil over the veggies. 
  • Now place the dish in the oven and bake for approx. 1 h at 180-200°C. 
This is a simply delicious, light dinner for 4-6 persons with a healthy appetite. Or you only eat so much and warm over the rest the next day (there’s only two of us at home, so we had three scrumptious dinners). Of course, I prepared much too much stuffing but I simple deep-froze the rest so next time I’ll only have to buy the veggies to treat myself to another fine meal. And don’t worry about there being no sauce: the veggies give off quite a lot of juices while baking so the resulting meal is absolutely not dry. 
Bon app├ętit.

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