Oh my goodness. This time of year is always so overwhelming. I love being a teacher, but WOW! How is it that I manage to forget, every year, just how exhausting the prep work leading up to the start of school is?
When it comes to the beginning of school, there are some things I definitely DON’T forget. The need for nourishing but easy meals is one of them. I know I won’t be chomping at the bit to create involved dinners during those first few weeks, but I always remember how hungry and tired I get. I know I need to properly fuel my mind and body if I’m going to have even a chance of making it to Friday in one piece.
I’ve got a few standby recipes, but I’m going to add this one to the list. Sure, it takes a little over an hour from start to finish, but nearly all of that time is inactive time. Once stuffed, the peppers go into the oven for nearly an hour, which is just about the right amount of time to watch a little tv, check my emails, grade papers, and wind down. The original recipe also calls for a basil sauce, which you can make while they’re in the oven. I found I liked them better without the sauce and will just chop some basil and sprinkle it over the top of the peppers with a bit of olive oil next time, which I’ve reflected in this post. The rest of my family really liked the sauce, however, so you may want to follow the link to the original and give it a try for yourself.
adapted from Giada DeLaurentiis
1/4 c. plus 1 TBSP extra virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
3/4 c. Israeli couscous
1 1/4 c. low-sodium vegetable broth
2 tsp. ground cumin
1 can garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained
1/4 c. dried currants
2 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
1 packed c. baby spinach leaves, chopped
1/2 c. crumbled feta cheese
salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
4-5 red, yellow, and/or orange bell peppers
hot water, as needed
1/4 c. fresh basil, chopped or chiffonade
1. Place an oven rack in the center position and preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
2. In a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, warm 1 TBSP olive oil then add couscous and toast, stirring occasionally, about 5 minutes. Add vegetable broth and cumin and bring to a boil. Cover and cook for 10 minutes or until liquid id absorbed and couscous appears fluffy.
3. Meanwhile, prepare all other ingredients and slice the tops from the peppers and remove the ribs and seeds. If needed, cut a very thin slice from the bottom to allow pepper to stand up. (At this point, you may only want to cut four peppers in case you don’t need the fifth.)
4. When couscous is ready, pour it into a large bowl and add beans, currants, garlic, spinach, feta, and 1/4 c. olive oil. Stir to combine and add salt and pepper, to taste.
5. Stuff the peppers with couscous filling and arrange in a baking dish. If you have leftover filling, prepare a fifth pepper and arrange in dish. Drizzle tops with olive oil and put 3/4 in. hot water into the bottom of the baking dish.
6. Place dish in preheated oven and bake until the peppers are cooked through, about 55 minutes. If the filling browns too quickly, cover with foil and continue baking. (I covered mine after about 25 minutes.)
7. Remove peppers from oven and allow to cool five minutes. Meanwhile chop basil. To serve, drizzle with one last touch of olive oil and sprinkle with basil.
Yields: 4-5 servings