Detox January - C Cooks: Lebanese Stuffed Bell Peppers with Minted Rice, Tomatoes, Herbs & Lime Dressing

Detox January isn't just limited to European cuisine; as ever with us, Middle Eastern food makes an appearance too. A kindly gifted C a brilliant Lebanese cookbook for Christmas and now that the festive season is over with, she's been itching to try out some of the recipes.

While the dishes all look and sound delicious, on the whole they're hardly light in calorie content. However, a quick look through the vegetable, mezze and salad sections soon presented C with a few healthier options for a light dinner.

Along with a Tabbouleh - a quick, easy and delicious kind of salad, which we'll post about anon - C served up Stuffed Bell Peppers with Minted Rice, Tomatoes, Herbs and a Lime and Garlic Dressing for herself and her friend T (aforementioned on the blog). It was every bit as good as it sounds: full of flavour, spices, herbs and tang.

Get stuffed!

Stuffed peppers are pretty common in Lebanese cooking. While they're often stuffed with lamb, this version is purely vegetarian and calls for a filling of minted rice, peas, rocket, cayenne pepper and lemon juice, which thankfully is considerably lighter on the calorie count than a serving of red meat.



This version of the dish also calls for the peppers to be stuffed in halves, on their sides, rather than whole and standing up as is more commonly seen: however, it still tastes just as good, and is a refreshing twist on the traditional.

Get ready to stuff your face...

C's recipe is taken from The Lebanese Kitchen: for any fans of Middle Eastern cuisine, we can't recommend the book enough.

The recipe may look fairly ingredient-heavy, but most items on the list are either very affordable, or products you'll use over and over and so are well worth investing in.

Looking a bit seedy

It's thyme (and rosemary)

Ingredients (to serve 2)

  • 2 red bell peppers, halved and seeded
  • 2 large tomatoes, halved
  • olive oil
  • 2 thyme sprigs
  • 1 rosemary sprig
  • 80g/3oz basmati rice, rinsed
  • 150ml/1/4 pint vegetable stock
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper (C very sparingly used some Scotch Bonnet peppers instead)
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 50g/2oz cooked peas
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint
  • 25g/1oz rocket (arugula)
  • sea salt and pepper
For the dressing:
  • 5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • juice of 1 lime
  • 1 garlic clove, grated

Stuffed peppers, with bells on
Peppering the plate with, er, peppers...


Instructions:

Preparation time: 20 minutes
Cooking time: 30 minutes 
  1. Preheat the oven to 190c/Gas Mark 5. Put a tomato half in each bell pepper half, and put them in a roasting pan. Drizzle with olive oil and put the thyme and rosemary sprigs on top. Season with salt and pepper and roast for 30 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, cook the basmati rice in the vegetable stock for 10-15 minutes until tender (note here that you might have to add a considerable amount more water than the recipe asks for). Stir in the cayenne pepper, or a tiny amount of a Scotch Bonnet pepper if you're C, and add the lemon juice, peas and mint. Toss well and season with salt and pepper.
  3. Remove the bell peppers from the oven and put them into a serving dish. Reserve any cooking juices for the dressing. Spoon the rice over the top and add the rocket. 
  4. Make the dressing by putting all the ingredients into a small bowl with the reserved cooking juices and mixing well. Pour the dressing over the rocket and pepper, and serve immediately.


Alright, hot stuffed

All in all, it makes a delicious dinner, perfect served with a side salad such as a Tabbouleh or as a starter of a larger meal. C cooked this up for her and T, who gave the dish rave reviews, much to her delight.

The best thing, of course, is that - aside from the olive oil, of course, and the fact that we used basmati rather than brown rice - this makes rather a healthy dinner. Perfect for Detox January, and we have a feeling we'll be using it all year round!

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