Weekly Winner:  Stuck on Stuffing Stuff — A Lighter Version

 What’s happening to me??  Not too long ago I swore I was not a fan of stuffed veggies.  I said it was not worth the effort and that it detracted from not only what you were stuffing, but generally the stuffing itself.  Then I discovered Sausage-and-Basil Stuffed Tomatoes, then just last month came Chicken Stuffed Bell Peppers, and now this — the ultimate shock – a totally vegetarian version!  Ack!  No pork product or meat of any kind!

That’s just a testament of how delightfully surprising this gem of a dish is.  Couscous-Stuffed Tomatoes rocked my world!  The recipe comes from Fine Cooking.  I honestly was simply testing the recipe for some of my clients who like this kind of thing (read: “vegetarian entrees”) and while I was expecting it to be light and tasty, I absolutely never imagined it would rise to the upper echelon of “Weekly Winner” status.  But, here it is.  And it deserves it.  It is bright and zesty thanks to the lemon and mint and since it is served at room temperature or chilled, it makes a perfect summer meal.  Not that a little crumbled bacon wouldn’t make it just a tad more perfect!

Couscous-Stuffed Tomatoes

Serves 4

Ingredients:

1/4 cup plus 1 Tbs. toasted walnut or olive oil

1/4 cup fresh lemon juice

2 tsp. pure maple syrup

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

5 oz. (1 cup) Israeli couscous, preferably toasted

4 scallions, finely chopped

2 tsp. finely chopped garlic

4 large tomatoes

1/4 cup finely chopped fresh mint, plus small leaves for garnish

1/4 cup finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

Procedure:

In a large bowl, whisk 1/4 cup of the oil with the lemon juice, maple syrup, 1 1/2 tsp. salt, and 1/2 tsp. pepper. Set aside.

In a 3-quart pot, bring 1½ cups water to a boil. Cook the couscous in the boiling water according to package directions until the water is absorbed. Toss with the vinaigrette.

In a 10-inch skillet, heat the remaining 1Tbs. oil over medium-high heat. Add the scallions and cook, stirring often, until browned in spots, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, until fragrant, 5 to 10 seconds. Combine with the couscous, and then toss with the chopped mint and parsley.

Core the tomatoes, slice a tiny bit off their bottoms to create a level base, cut off their top 1/4 inch, and then seed them with a spoon. Drain the flesh and seeds in a colander, then chop and add to the couscous. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Divide the mixture among the tomatoes, garnish with the mint leaves, and serve.



Weekly Winner: A Second Scrumptious Stuffed Supper

There I go with my love of alliteration again.  But ever so slowly, it appears I’m becoming a fan of stuffed vegetables.  You may remember that it was just about a year ago that I sang the praises of Sausage and Basil Stuffed Tomatoes.  Now, I’ve found a stuffed pepper recipe that totally took me by surprise. Apparently I’m going to have to reconsider my stance on this issue.

My only complaint with this recipe is its name.  Chicken-Stuffed Bell Peppers with black beans and corn.  Really?  That’s it??  Boring!!  I cannot recall where I came across this recipe, but it needs some serious rebranding!  How about Fiesta-Filled Boats of Deliciousness?? OK, maybe not. But still, this dish is a fabulous blend of southwestern flavors and is relatively easy.  To top it all off, it’s incredibly healthy and low-calorie thanks to the Greek yogurt and quinoa.

Go ahead and treat yourself to something tasty and different by making this for dinner soon.  And if you think of a better name, please let me know!

Chicken-Stuffed Bell Peppers with black beans and corn

Serves 4

Ingredients:

1/2 cup dry quinoa

1 boneless, skinless chicken breast (8oz)

2 tsp olive oil

2 Tbsp seeded and minced jalapeño

2 Tbsp chopped scallion whites

1 Tbsp minced garlic

1 Tbsp fresh lime juice

1 cup black beans, rinsed and drained

1 cup fresh or frozen corn kernels

3/4 cup shredded pepper-Jack cheese, divided

1/2 cup plain, low-fat Greek yogurt

1tsp each ground cumin and chili powder

1/2 tsp each ground coriander, kosher salt, and black pepper

4 red bell peppers, halved lengthwise, stems, ribs and seeds removed

2 Tbsp chopped scallion Green’s (for garnish)

Procedure:

  1. Preheat oven to 375
  2. Cook quinoa according to package directions, set aside
  3. Cook chicken in oil in a nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until an instant read thermometer inserted into the thickest part registers 165, about 7 minutes per side.  Transfer to a plate to cool; shred
  4. Sauté jalapeño, scallion whites, and garlic in same skillet over medium-low heat until fragrant; 2-3 minutes.  Deglaze skillet with lime juice.
  5. Combine beans, corn, 1/2 cup cheese, yogurt, cumin, chili powder, coriander, salt and pepper with quinoa, chicken and jalapeño mixture in a large bowl.  Arrange bell peppers in a 9×13-inch baking dish; spoon filling into bell peppers. Add 2 Tbsp water to bottom of dish; cover with foil and bake 30 minutes.  Remove foil; bake bell peppers until fork tender, 10-15 minutes more.
  6. Garnish bell peppers with remaining 1/4 cup cheese and scallion greens.