Sunday, 9 May 2010

Mexican Bean Stuffed Peppers

With this recipe I officially renounce my dislike for stuffed vegetables.  Although, in my defense, neither tomatoes nor peppers are technically vegetables - I know, I know...I'm not buying it either! Oh well, I guess it just shows that we must always be open to different things, especially those that we think we don't like.

It wasn't bbq weather, so this recipe had to be adapted for indoor cooking.  I started grilling them from underneath, then transferred the heat to the top.  From the original recipe, I changed pinto beans to black beans - as I find them softer and more flavorsome.  I also substituted the yellow onion with spring onion, since they wouldn't be cooked, I thought raw yellow onion may be too strong.

The stuffed pepper halves were super yummy and I wish I had made two!  They were also really fast and easy to put together.  The cumin is a necessity for the 'mexican' flavor - but even without they would still be tasty.  The original recipe was a take on chiles rellenos and used poblano peppers.  Sadly, living in a country which has yet to truly embrace Tex-Mex, it is near impossible to find Mexican peppers, so I substituted a large sweet red pepper - which appeared similar.  I actually think the slight sweetness of the pepper worked well with the spicy filling, and the size held the filling perfectly.  

I can't wait until the weather improves and I can try this recipe on the bbq!

Mexican Bean Stuffed Peppers
serves 1

1 large sweet red pepper (or any other large chili) - halved lengthways
1/4 cup black beans - drained and rinsed
2 thin chillies - finely chopped
1 garlic clove - finely minced
2 spring onions - finely sliced
1/2 tsp cumin
1/4 cup grated cheese
pinch salt

Heat a grill pan over medium high heat and preheat grill to medium high.  Combine black beans, chillies, garlic, cumin, most of the cheese, salt, and most of the spring onions in a bowl.  Fill each half of the pepper with the mixture and lightly grill for a couple minutes in the grill pan.  Then put the peppers (still in the grill pan) under the grill for 10 minutes, then top with remaining cheese and grill until melted. Top with remaining spring onions.

Monday, 3 May 2010

Risotto Stuffed Beef Tomatoes

Of course now that I've said that I don't like stuffed vegetables I remembered another dish that I like, that is of course, exactly that.  As a vegetarian when eating out, nine times out of ten there will be one or two vegetarian dishes - one of which will be some sort of risotto.  Perhaps it is this narrowmindedness of what vegetarian food is that has made me avoid most risotto's.  Whenever I have had to try them (due to no other vegetarian option) they have been boring.  

When I finally decided to try cooking it at home I felt that it needed something more - and that something was a large, ripe and juicy, beef tomato.  For some reason, this makes it feel like more of a balanced meal to me.  The risotto itself is delicious, but I could only really ever see it as a side dish - but somehow stuffed in a large tomato just makes it a proper meal.

Following the general idea of a recipe for spring vegetable risotto, I combined it with the idea of stuffing a tomato with risotto which I had seen in several places.

Risotto Stuffed Tomatoes
serves 4 as starter
4 large beef tomato
100 g risotto rice (arborio)

1 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp butter
small onion - finely chopped
1 large garlic clove - finely minced
50 mL white wine
40 g soy or edamame or broad beans* (or a mix of whatever you have)
60 g peas*
300 mL warm vegetable stock -you may need more or less than this depending on your rice
50 g parmesan - grated
salt & pepper

Preheat oven to 190 C/ 375 F.  Parboil risotto rice for 6 minutes.  Drain rice, then distribute on a baking sheet in a single layer.  Cut the tops off of the tomatoes and scoop out the inner flesh.  Add the juice from the tomatoes to the stock and chop up the flesh from the inner tomato.  In a medium saucepan heat the oil and butter, add the onion and gently fry for a couple minutes.  Add minced garlic and gently fry for a further couple minutes until the onion is soft and translucent.  Add in partly cooked rice, then add white wine and reduce until liquid is halved.  

Add in a ladle of stock and heat very gently until absorbed.  Continue adding a ladle of stock at a time until the rice is al dente (about 10 minutes).  Add in the beans and peas, chopped tomato flesh, parmesan and salt & pepper to taste.  The rice should have a bit of moisture, so if it's too dry add a bit more stock.  Fill the tomatoes with the risotto and bake for 15-20 minutes, or until the tomato is tender.

*I used frozen, which I took out of the freezer right before I started, then added to the cooked rice and warmed through.