Over-Stuffed Sweet Peppers
I take full advantage of the summer bounty of offerings this amazing universe has to offer and cooking with seasonal fruits and vegetables is always the flavorful way to go.
Cooking in season offers the best ever flavors as the vegetable and fruit is picked and eaten according to Mother Nature’s plan and not when I may want it. I think this idea works best as it encourages my creativity to do well with what is offered me.
These sweet beauties were the sale of the week at Whole Foods so I immediately got a craving for stuffed peppers. Yes, that’s all it takes – a stroll through the produce department of a nice, clean supermarket and a sale or coupon — gets my juices flowing.
But stuffed with what? I wanted to steer away from pasta and cheese, since I’ve done that already and really, sweet peppers can be stuffed with whatever your imagination can conjure up.
Remembering a taco salad recipe that came across my computer recently, I decided to use some of those ingredients keeping the flavorful punch that has been my trademark. I decided however, not to use the traditional Mexican flavors.
The list of ingredients is long here and I say, if you can substitute any ingredient you like better, go for it. I made three different sets of concoctions then layered them inside the peppers and roasted them in the oven for about 25 minutes.
Over-Stuffed Sweet Peppers
3 large sweet peppers
1 chorizo link removed from casing
2 T olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
6 garlic cloves, minced
4 C fresh spinach
1/4 C pasta sauce (optional)
1/4 C of each: jalapenos (I used pickled), olives, tomato
3/4 pound of ground beef – grass-fed or antibiotic and hormone free
3/4 C black or pink beans, rinsed
1/2 C mozzarella cheese, shredded
1/2 C plain Greek yogurt
2 T mayonnaise
1 t horseradish sauce
Three Different Processes
1. Pulsing the spicy vegetables – add the jalapenos, olives and cut up tomato to a food processor and pulse about 3 times then set aside.
2. Cooking the beef – cook the chorizo in a large pot in olive oil with the onions, remaining bits of sweet pepper after hollowing out, and garlic for about 12-15 minutes until lightly browned; add the spinach and pasta sauce and cook for another 4 minutes; remove from pot then add ground beef to the pot with a dash of salt and cook until almost done. Once this mixture is cooled a bit, add the chorizo sauté, the pulsed spicy vegetables and the beans and stir to combine.
3. Making the yogurt sauce – combine the yogurt, mayonnaise and horseradish sauce and mix well.
Assembling the Peppers
Add a layer of the beef mixture to the hollowed-out pepper then add a layer of yogurt and cheese; add another layer of beef mixture and top with cheese; roast in 350F oven for about 25 minutes.
Please note that I began roasting at a high temperature of 400F which caused the browning of the cheese too soon. The result should be a browned top and a softened pepper.
Creamed Kale & Spinach
Anything spinach, I’ll eat. Spinach in anything I’ll eat. Discovering creamed spinach has been a double-edged discovery since so much of its delicious-ness is derived from its creaminess and basically creaminess amounts to high calorie.
However, now that I know how to make it, I have control over the ingredient content! Yay!
I only recently investigated what actually goes into making creamed spinach and realized that it is not a hard-to-master scientific experiment in the least. It incorporates a sauce that is made using the béchamel sauce-making technique! While I chose not to use this technique which includes adding flour as a thickener, I thought that the combination of milk and cheeses I would use would create a thick enough sauce. And it did.
I adapted a recipe from Martha Stewart who uses cream cheese and no flour.
And, since I like to combine spinach with kale and have a number of different ways in which I use kale, I thought that it could also do well in this recipe.
So, there you go, kale and spinach really is comfort food! Enjoy!
Note 1: For this recipe I didn’t go out of my way to substitute lower calorie ingredients in particular as I used regular cream cheese. When I make it again, I will use a lower fat version. I will also use less butter and continue to use low-fat milk.
Creamed Kale & Spinach
Yield = 5 cups
2 cups fresh organic Baby Spinach
2 1/2 cups fresh organic Kale
1 Onion, chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 T Canola
Dash of red pepper flakes
3 T Butter
1/2 cup milk
3 T Cream cheese
1/4 cup Gruyere
Process: wash, cut and blanch kale and spinach; after they are cooled, squeeze all liquid from them and chop. To make the cream sauce: saute onion in canola oil until translucent; add garlic, red pepper flakes, salt, pepper and butter and cook for another 3 minutes; add milk and when heated add Gruyere and cream cheese; stir and cook until cheese is melted; let cool then process in a blender; return to pan and add kale and spinach and cook for another 5 minutes.