Put the pilaf in some peppers

It was always this time of year, when fresh green peppers were being picked from a garden at a small farm near our home in a suburb of St. Paul, that my mom would make Hungarian stuffed peppers. They were a family favorite. I still look forward to the first big pot of stuffed peppers I make each summer. They are packed tight with uncooked rice, ground beef and ground pork and paprika and simmer in a large pot of tomato juice. And served with a very generous mound of mashed potatoes. I posted that recipe a couple of years ago. You can get right to that recipe by clicking here.

The stuffed peppers I made this week were far from those Hungarian-style peppers. I used leftover Rice and Orzo Summer Pilaf (recipe in my column this week), filled with fresh, local vegetables to stuff the first peppers of the season that I bought at my local  farmers market. I mixed some chopped tomato and some rinsed and drained chickpeas to make the peppers a meal.

The photo above shows the stuffed peppers ready to hit the oven. Some folks may like to blanch the pepper halves before stuffing so that they become very soft during the baking time. I prefer more texture. When the peppers are baked without being blanched they are crisp-tender.

I had a chunk of tomato basil goat cheese in the refrigerator that I was trying for the first time, a purchase from a new farmer at the market this year. Her family raises the goats on their farm near Motley and Eichten’s in Center City, famous for their gouda cheese, make the cheese for them using the milk from their goats. The farmer said she uses the goat cheese on grilled sandwiches, so I knew it must be a good melting cheese. I grated some up and sprinkled it over the peppers during the last minutes of baking.

These peppers make a satisfying meal. And, when you’re using leftover Rice and Orzo Summer Pilaf, the meal takes only minutes to make. They’re not my mom’s Hungarian stuffed peppers, yet they are surprisingly delicious.

Rice and Orzo Summer Pilaf Stuffed Peppers

I had about 2 cups of leftover Pilaf. It was enough to stuff 4 pepper halves.

  • 2 cups Rice and Orzo Summer Pilaf
  • 1 large fresh tomato, chopped
  • Chickpeas, rinsed and drained, as many as you desire to add to the stuffing
  • 2 medium green peppers, cut in half lengthwise, seeds removed
  • 1/4 cup grated cheese of your choice
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup vegetable broth or beef broth

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Mix Pilaf, tomato and chickpeas together in a bowl. Generously stuff each of the four pepper halves with the mixture. Arrange in a baking dish. Pour just enough broth into the baking dish to cover the bottom, about 1/4 inch deep. Cover the dish with aluminum foil and seal tightly. Bake in preheated oven for 30 minutes. Remove foil from baking dish. Sprinkle cheese on each stuffed pepper. Return to oven and bake, uncovered, about 10 minutes or until cheese is melted and slightly browned. Serve immediately.

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