Baked Peppers With An Unexpected Ingredient

Not the usual cheese, rice or ground beef, but tofu gets stuffed into these peppers.
Not the usual cheese, rice or ground beef, but tofu gets stuffed into these peppers.

As my husband readied the grill for Italian sausages the other night, he looked at me dumbfounded as I pulled out a box of tofu from the fridge.

Yes, silken tofu is the surprising ingredient in these otherwise Mediterranean-influenced stuffed peppers.

Leave it to the one and only Nigel Slater to come up with this simple and inspired riff on a classic, replacing the usual rice, ground meat or cheese in stuffed peppers with custardy-soft tofu instead.

“Baked Peppers with Tofu and Olives” is from the noted British food writer’s newest cookbook, “A Cook’s Book” (Ten Speed Press), of which I received a review copy.

The 500-page book is a collection of 150 recipes along with evocative stories from this home cook’s home cook. These are unfussy recipes, many with 10 or fewer ingredients, full of an appealing carefree spirit.

Enjoy everything from whole “Baked Onions, Taleggio Sauce,” “Baked Cauliflower, Miso, and Tahini,” and “Marmalade Chicken” to “Pasta with Spicy Sausage, Basil, and Mustard,” and “Chocolate Chip, Rose, and Marzipan Cookies.”

This recipe couldn’t be easier. Simply halve red bell peppers, removing the seeds and cores, then fill the cavities with silken tofu and cherry tomatoes. Drizzle on olive oil and sprinkle on salt and pepper, then slide into a hot oven for one hour.

Assembling the peppers before sliding them into the oven.
Assembling the peppers before sliding them into the oven.

When they’re done, the peppers will be very tender, the tomatoes will have collapsed a bit, with their lovely juices melding with the tofu.

Mince chives, parsley, and green olives, and sprinkle over the top of each pepper halve. I also liked to add another drizzle of olive oil and final sprinkle of salt, so I added that to the recipe below.

Chopped olives, chives, and parsley go overtop just before serving.
Chopped olives, chives, and parsley go overtop just before serving.

As Slater explains in his book, he used to stuff the pepper with salty sheep milk feta, but has now taken to using tofu instead. Indeed, two years ago, I actually made another of his stuffed pepper recipes, that used both feta and pesto.

The tofu version is a more delicate tasting one. It tastes less rich, eliminating the high fat that ground beef or cheese would add in more traditional stuffed pepper recipes. It decreases the carbs, too, when you opt for tofu over rice as a stuffing. Of course, tofu has the benefit of being high in protein. It also provides a pleasing almost panna cotta-like texture.

The recipe serves 3 as a main course. I added that it would nicely serve 6, too, as a side dish.

If you like cilantro, Slater suggests embellishing the cooked peppers further with some. I think chopped fresh chilies added to the peppers as they roast or just before serving also would be delicious.

A panna cotta-like texture.
A panna cotta-like texture.

Baked Peppers with Tofu and Olives

(Serves 3 as a main dish or 6 as a side dish)

3 red bell peppers

1 pound silken tofu

9 ounces cherry tomatoes

7 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for serving

10 green olives

10 chives

2 tablespoons chopped parsley

Set the oven to 400 degrees.

Halve and seed the peppers. Put them, cut side up, in a baking dish. Divide the tofu evenly among the peppers. Cut each of the cherry tomatoes in half and add them to the peppers, tucking them in with the tofu. Pour some of the olive oil into each of the peppers. Season with black pepper and a little salt.

Bake the peppers for 1 hour or until they are truly tender.

Pit and roughly chop the olives and put them in a small mixing bowl. Finely chop the chives and mix them with the olives. Toss the parsley with the olives and chives. Scatter the herb mixture over the peppers as they come from the oven. Drizzle with a little more olive oil, season with a final sprinkle of salt, and serve.

Adapted from “A Cook’s Book” by Nigel Slater

More Nigel Slater Recipes to Enjoy: Peppers, Pesto, Feta

And: Pumpkin, Mustard, Cream

And: Slim Apricot Tarts

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