Stuffed Peppers Of A Different Sort
Take summer bell peppers from supporting players to superstars.
The fruit that we mistakenly think of as a vegetable is so often relegated to a secondary role, cut up for salads, soups, and stir-fries, where it lingers in the background of so many other ingredients.
But “Peppers, Pesto, Feta” shines the spotlight directly on them prominently.
This super easy recipe is from ““Greenfeast: Spring, Summer” (Ten Speed Press), of which I received a review copy.
Like that book, this one is also vegetarian, comprising 110 no-frills recipes that take the simple approach to highlighting the fresh bounty of spring and summer.
The recipes all take their name from the three ingredients they most highlight. Most of them require only a handful or two of total ingredients, too, many of which you probably already have on hand, to create such delights as a salad of “Bulgar, Nectarines, Parsley,” the contrast of “Eggplant, Honey, Sheep Cheese,” the unique combo of “Green Falafel, Watermelon, Yogurt,” and a jammy compote of “Plums, Cloves, Bay Leaves.”
There are many stuffed bell pepper recipes out there, most of them incorporating sausage or other ground meat, and rice or other grains into the filling. “Peppers, Pesto, Feta” deviates from that markedly. All you do is fill the pepper halves with cherry tomatoes, olives, feta, and some pesto, then bake in the oven.
I used red bell peppers, but any color will do. I chose meaty, buttery, green Castelvetrano olives, but again, feel free to use another favorite type.
What you end up with are total lookers that are bodacious flavor bombs. The peppers bake until sweet and tender yet still hold their shape. Each bite is a powerhouse of salty-brininess, creamy cheesiness, and Mediterranean herbaceousness, all balanced with a touch of sweetness from the tiny, bursting tomatoes.
Enjoy the peppers as a light meal with grilled bread and a green salad. Or as a side dish to most anything. In fact, it might not much matter what the main dish is because all eyes are guaranteed to be front and center on these star-turn stuffed peppers.
Peppers, Pesto, Feta
2 bell peppers
6 cherry tomatoes
3 1/2 ounces feta
2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons pesto
Set the oven to 350 degrees. Halve the peppers vertically, and remove and discard any stalks, cores, or seeds. Put the peppers, cut side up in a roasting pan.
Chop the cherry tomatoes and put them in a mixing bowl. Crumble the feta into large pieces and add to the tomatoes. Pit the olives, adding them to the bowl with a grinding of black pepper. Stir in the pesto, then spoon into the halved peppers. Pour enough olive oil into each to come up to the top. Bake for about 25 minutes until the top is lightly brown.
Note: This is one of those dishes that seems more appropriate warm than hot, so leave the peppers to settle for 20 minutes before eating. While they are in the oven, you may want to cover the dish with aluminum foil to prevent the pesto from darkening.
Fist-size beefsteak tomatoes are also a good vehicle for filling. Hollow out the cores and seeds, and stuff with the feta, pesto, olives, and small golden tomatoes. A splash of red wine vinegar is a good trick, sprinkled over the dish just before it goes into the oven, to sharpen its edges.
From “Greenfeast: Spring, Summer” by Nigel Slater
More Nigel Slater Recipes to Enjoy: Pumpkin, Mustard, Cream
And: Slim Apricot Tarts