Tag Archives: peppers

Mushroom and Brown Rice Stuffed Peppers

I’ve been sceptical of stuffed peppers for many a year, fearing I’d be branded a vegetarian for daring to tuck into one. As part of my new year’s resolutions, I vowed to get more adventurous with food and so stuffed peppers became my first experiment (only to find that Charles had done the same thing 2 days before).

I was pleasantly surprised, so here’s one way to make them.

Stuffed pepper recipe You will need:

One shiny lovely red pepper (or indeed a pepper coloured to your taste)

One portion of brown rice – I made too much but enjoyed munching my way through the leftovers)

1/2 brown onion

1 clove garlic

4 chestnut mushrooms or 8 button mushrooms

Olive oil

1 tbsp butter

A sprinkle of dried parsley

A sprinkle of dried thyme

Salt and black pepper
vegetarian meal ideas 1. Get the brown rice on to cook first in some salted water, as it will take around 20 minutes to cook.  Finely chop the onion and mince or grate the garlic. Preheat the oven to 180c.
Mushroom stuffed peppers   2. Slice the mushrooms.

how to cook onions 3. Melt the butter in a medium saucepan, turn the heat up a little and throw in the onion and garlic.
How to make onion and mushroom stuffing 4. Cook out the onion until browning and translucent, but don’t turn the heat up too high or you might burn the garlic. Add the mushrooms, seasoning and herbs and cook out until the mushrooms are just cooked (they’ll get more cooking in the oven). recipes using brown rice 5. When the rice is tender, drain it and place it into a bowl.
 Tasty Stuffed Pepper Recipe 6. Mix the onions and mushrooms into the rice.  Check the seasoning and adjust as necessary – this should be really tasty and moreish if the balance is right.
How to stuff peppers 7. There are many ways to stuff peppers – some people half the pepper and fill it up, which would be a great accompaniment to a heavier meal, but I wanted this to be the star of the show so I serves up a whole one by neatly slicing the top off and removing all the seeds and sinew from inside, giving me this lovely edible bowl.
 8. Add the filling, squashing as much in as you’d like, but remembering you need to get the top on.  Use a form to push it right down into the corners.
Midweek Meal Ideas 9. Pop it on some tin foil on a baking tray, drizzle with some oil and put in the oven at 180c fan for 25-30 mins depending if you like your pepper crispy – don’t roast it for too long though as it could become too soft and collapse! Exploding peppers!

Resipes using peppers I served mine with a piece of salmon and some green beans for a delicious, filling, (relatively) healthy meal – you could swap out the oil for butter, but I much prefer butter with mushrooms!
Peppers stuffed with brown rice Hopefully we’ll be sharing some alternative ways to stuff peppers in the future – Charles has his filled with spicy cous cous! Let us know what you think, and remember to sign-up to our mailing list!

Pesto Chicken Quesadilla

This recipe was a bit of a spur of the moment idea and turned out to be ridiculously delicious. It’s a little bit naughty with the wrap and melted cheese….but everything in moderation….

The pesto is a bit of a departure from the traditional Mexican dish, but hopefully you’ll forgive me once you’ve had a bite. Hot, crispy, melty, cheesey, pesto….yeah just try it…

 pesto chicken quesadilla recipe 
To make one, you will need:

1 tortilla wrap (I used a seeded one for extra flavour and texture)

Grated cheese, I used a couple of handfuls of cheddar

1/2 red pepper

1/2 red onion

1 chicken breast

2 tbsp pesto (I used homemade pesto)

Dash olive oil

A griddle pan 

Serve with salad or vegetables 

how to cook onions and peppers 
  1. Add a little olive oil to a small frying pan. Slice the onion and pepper as you would for fajitas and gently fry this off until the onion is caramelised and the peppers are starting to soften. how to butterfly chicken 
  2. Preheat the oven to 180c. Prepare your chicken – I butterflied mine so that it would cook more quickly and evenly by slicing along the side of the breast (lengthways) as if I were cutting open a roll, then folded the top back so that it was half the depth and double the width, as above. how to make pesto chicken 
  3. Spoon the pesto onto the chicken and spread it out to coat it. Put on a tray in the oven for 10-15 minutes until cooked through.ideas for using up wraps 
  4. Now you can prepare your tortilla. Grate the cheese onto one half of the wrap…quesadilla recipe 
  5. Add the cooked onions and peppers (as if you were making a sandwich)…pesto chicken recipe 
  6. Once the chicken has cooked, slice it up, keeping the pesto on top, and later it onto the peppers, onions and cheese. chicken quesadilla recipe 7. Look how good it looks already!  what is a quesadilla  8. Now fold over the bare side of the wrap  into this sort of giant, flat taco shape, and place your griddle on medium to high heat (not too high as it could burn whilst you’re trying to melt the cheese). If you don’t have a griddle pan, a large frying pan will do the job but you won’t get the “I’m a big show-off” grill lines- no oil necessary; just a dry pan will suffice.how to make quesadillas at home  

9.  When the bottom is starting to brown abs crisp and the cheese is starting to melt, flip it over and repeat on the other side.best ever quesadilla   10. Check the cheese has melted and serve. If you don’t to share or get neat about things, cut it into triangles (like a pizza)…but this was my supper and I wanted  it to look giant!

chicken, pepper and cheese  quesadilla
You know you need this….
 

 

Roast Sweet Potato and Pepper Soup

If you eat soup every week of winter, like I do, it can get difficult to come up with new ideas as to how to make them all different. Charles doesn’t believe in sweet potato soup because he reckons it’s too carb-based to be a light vegetable soup, but I reckon it’s ok every now and again, as it still counts as one of your 5-a-day, and it’s diluted by other vegetables and stock. It is quite hard to get flavour into root vegetable soups, but I always find that roasting the vegetables first can intensify the flavour of the various vegetables.


You will need:

4 smallish or 3 large sweet potatoes

2 large onions

4 cloves garlic

1 leek

3 medium carrots

1 apple

Olive oil

Chicken stock (I used 3 Knorr cubes)

3 tsp paprika

2 tsp cumin

2 tsp parsley

1 tsp thyme

1 tsp mild chilli powder

2 tsp ground coriander

Salt and pepper


1. Get your oven heated to 180c fan. Cover two large baking trays in tin foil. Cut the onions and leeks into large chunks and place on one of the trays along with the garlic (still in its skin). Splash on some oil, cover with tin foil to avoid crispy bits and shove in the oven. I left the tougher outer layers I usually remove on the vegetables to protect the inside of the veg   from too much heat.

2. Repeat with the sweet potatoes and peppers and the second tray, putting the flesh down and skin up, topping and tailing the sweet potatoes and removing the seeds and stalk from the peppers.  Shove in the oven uncovered so the skins with catch and be easy to remove. Roast both trays for around half an hour.


3. When the onions and lens have largely softened and started to brown, remove from the oven. Allow to cool until you can comfortably touch them, then remove the outer layers and stalks and chop into relatively small pieces. Add some oil to a soup pot and set it on a medium to high heat then add in the onions and leeks to continue to sweat down. Squeeze the garlic out of its skin.


4. Meanwhile, peel and chop the carrots and apple and add to the pot.

how to make soup

5. Allow to cool down for 10 minutes or so while you deal with the rest of the veg.

 


6. Pull the peppers and sweet potatoes out of the oven. If they’re ready, the skin will be darker and wrinkly.


7. Pinch the skins and pull them away from the flesh. The sweet potatoes will be baked, like solid mash, so they can just be added to the pot and broken up with a spoon.

roasted peppers recipe
8. Repeat with the peppers (the skin should be papery and peel away easily)but chop them up before adding to the pot.


9. Prepare and and the stock then put the lid on and allow to simmer for 40 minutes or so.


10. Add the spices etc, then finally, blitz with a stick blender or liquidiser. I always decant it into another bowl to avoid scratching my soup pot with the stick blender.

roast sweet potato and pepper soup
If the consistency is too thick at any point, just add a little more water or stock. Enjoy for lunch all week and freeze what you won’t use! Enjoy!

Sausage and Pepper Pasta

Leftovers and store cupboard recipes seem to be the order of the day just now (trust me, my bank account is a fan!) so here’s another of my favourite quick midweek meals which largely uses ingredients from the kitchen cupboard and freezer. Unfortunately, the only way to make these types of recipe work in a relatively fresh and healthy way is to add in some fresh vegetables, but they tend to be relatively cheap and easy to pick up at lunch time or on the way home. 

  
You will need: 

1 red pepper

1 onion 

1 clove garlic

1 tin chopped or plum tomatoes or passata

Salt and pepper

Oregano, parsley and basil, 1/2 teaspoon of each 

Pinch sugar

1tsp lemon juice

1tsp Worcestershire sauce 

2 sausages per person

Portion of pasta per person 

  
1. Heat a little oil in a saucepan. Slice the onion and pepper into fine strips and add to the pan. Add the crushed garlic and cook at a low to medium heat until softened. 

2. Add in the tomatoes and stir through. Add the seasoning, sugar, lemon juice and Worcestershire sauce. Allow to simmer for as long as possible.

3. Put the sausages on a foiled tray in the oven and bake at 180C for around 25 minutes or until brown and cooked through.

4. In the mean time, put the pasta in a large saucepan, salt and cook until ready. Cooking time will depend on the shape of pasta you choose. 

5. When the sausages are ready, carefully cut into chunks and add to he sauce. Taste, and add further seasoning if required. Add a couple of tablespoons of the cooking water from the pasta pot to loosen and emulsify the sauce. This really does make a difference! 

  
6. Drain the pasta and add to the sauce then mix through. I prefer to do it this way round to save getting two pots really messy, but make sure the pasta is well drained!

Buen Appetito! 

Tuna Pasta Bake (With Extra Veggies)

This is a fantastic recipe for when you have a hankering for pasta but want to keep the carbs relatively low in favour of protein, bulked up with vegetables. Comforting, warming, versatile and full of goodness. If you want to be especially good, use wholewheat pasta. 

  
For this version, you will need:

1 onion

1 pepper

1 clove garlic

Handful of green beans

1 tin sweetcorn 

2 tins tuna. If you don’t like fish, this would be great with leftover chicken or cooked sausages cut up into chunks.

2 tomatoes (or however many you have)

1 tin chopped tomatoes

Chilli, oregano, basil, salt and pepper

A handful of grated hard cheese

A couple of crackers to crumble on top, or breadcrumbs, but I used a few baked tortilla chips since I often have a relatively fresh batch lying around 

A short cut pasta of your choosing, enough to feed 2-3 people should do the trick, or around 150g. I used Conchigliette because I like the way the sauce gets trapped inside the little shells.

An oven-proof casserole dish 

  
1. Slice the onions and pepper and cook off in a medium to large saucepan in a little olive oil on a low to medium heat. These will give you great flavour if cooked low and long.

2. Chip or grate the garlic and add to the saucepan once the onions and peppers are on their way to softening. 

3. Chuck the pasta into a large saucepan with a good punch of salt and pour over some freshly boiled water – give it plenty to swish about in and cook until there is still a bit of bite to the pasta, stirring occasionally. Remember this will be going in the oven with the sauce so will be cooked a little more later on.

  
4. Meanwhile, top and tail the beans and cut in half so they are bite sized. This should be a nice easy eat!  Add these to the vegetable saucepan and stir.

5. Chop the tomatoes into smallish chunks and add to the other vegetables. Once everything has had a good chance to heat through, add the tinned tomatoes, then swirl a little water in the empty can to release the residue. Add the herbs and seasonings and leave to simmer.

  
6. When your pasta is ready, add s couple of tablespoons of the cooking water to the sauce (thanks Nigella and Mr Brooker), drain the pasta and set aside. Preheat the oven to 180C fan. 

7. Drain the tin of sweetcorn (bring careful not to cut yourself on the lid!) and add the contents to the sauce.

8. Repeat with the tuna chunks, making sure to use the lids to really squeeze out the extra oil, brine or water, depending on which type you have. I pretty much always mix my tuna with mayo or add it to a sauce like this so I’m not very fussy about which I buy, although I’m not too keen on the brined version (just a family habit!). I find it easiest to use a fork to release the tuna flakes. Add this to the sauce when you’re happy it’s almost ready, as you really just want this to heat up before putting it all together. 

  
9. When you’re happy with everything, mix the pasta into the sauce (I only do it this way to save getting two saucepans dirty but feel free to explain if you think the other way is better) and pour into the casserole dish.

  
10. Sprinkle the grated cheese and crumbled up crackers over the top, and bake for 15 minutes or so, or until the sauce is bubbling and the cheese has melted to your satisfaction.  

 

I made this last for 2 suppers and 3 small lunches (reheated in the microwave) served with salad, and it was great every time. I kept the last bit in the fridge in a sealed container for about 5 days and it was still great. If you’re using cooked chicken or sausage, you might want to use it up within 3 days and be really sure you’ve reheated it properly. 

  

Roasted Peperonata

I couldn’t resist these bright little beauties in the supermarket and thought they’d make perfect chilled roasted peppers for salads. You don’t think they look much once they’re out of the oven, but sliced and stored away in the fridge, they last longer than you think and are so versatile for sandwiches and pizzas too.

The ideal way to create these is with a gas hob or blow torch in a pinch, but alas my hob is electric so I thought I would try to recreate these using my humble oven. And all is well! This would work with large peppers too; I just wanted to try it with these little ones. 

 
You will need:

As many peppers as you’d like

A tablespoon or so of olive oil

A baking tray covered in kitchen foil

An oven preheated to about 200C

1. Pour the oil onto the kitchen foil covered tray and put in the oven for around 5 minutes to let the oil heat up.

2. Remove from the oven carefully, tip the tray a little in each direction to let the oil spread out. Grab each pepper by the stalk, roll in the oil and then lay on the tray. 

3. Put the tray back in the oven and roast for at least 15 minutes – half an hour if you’re using full size peppers, checking every now and again. You want the outsides to be charred and the insides to be soft, so turn them over once they have started to blacken on top. 

  

4. When you’re happy they’re done, stick them all in a plastic or paper bag and tie or roll over the top. The idea is to create an environment for them to steam in, which will allow the skins to steam off, leaving the flesh ready to slice. 

 
5. Leave to steam for 10 to 15 minutes then start the process of rubbing away the skins. The flesh should pull apart easily as well, letting you scoop out the stalk and seeds. I find it easiest to get them skinned and tidy before laying them all out on the board to slice.

 
6. Slice and set aside in the fridge for use as you wish. You can even add some additional oil and seasoning if that’s what you like. These keep well in a container for a few weeks or longer in a sterilised jar. 

      

Beef and Broccoli Stir Fry

As I do every year, I spent Christmas 2014 with my family, surrounded by far too much rich food and wine and generally loafing around for too long.  So, by the time the new work year swang around, I was really craving something fresh, tasty and simple to cook to start my recipe diary.  This recipe is really quick, very simple, delicious and looks fairly impressive, as well as filling you up with lots of wholesome, fresh ingredients.  You should know, as an aside, that I have as many recipe books as I can possibly fit into my one-bed flat, but I hardly ever use them.  Even when I do read them, I generally just flick through them for inspiration.  When there’s something I like the look of, I Google, read other books and watch videos on YouTube to get the general gist of something before making up my own version, as there are generally ingredients I want to miss out (lemongrass, fresh coriander etc.) as well as extras I think will add another dimension to the dish.  True to this ‘philosophy’ as it were, feel free to add or take away anything you like or dislike – I’d love to hear what makes your version yours!

IMG_3894

You might want (to serve one, or multiples of to serve the masses):

1 steak (I used topside because it was on offer in M&S but use whatever quality of beef you like)

1 clove garlic, grated or crushed

1 inch square piece of ginger (none of this thumb-sized nonsense), grated

1/2 an onion (I used a white one to give things a Chinese takeaway feel), sliced

1/2 a red pepper, chopped or stripped

6 or so florets of broccoli

3 spring onions, chopped

1 tsp brown sugar/honey if you want it a bit healthier

beef stock

soy sauce to taste

a small amount of cornflour and cold water to hand

1.  Take your steak out of the fridge half an hour or so before you plan to start cooking, although this step is less essential when the temperature in the kitchen is hardly any higher than the temperature in the fridge!  Slice into strips and toss in a bowl with around a tablespoon of cornflour and 1 teaspoon of soy sauce. You may prefer more or less of either, but the idea is to give the steak a good coating and then leave to sit for 10 minutes or so.

2.  At this point, if I’m using regular broccoli, I stick it in some hot water for a few minutes to start cooking it through.  This is an optional step depending on the tenderness of your broccoli and how crunchy you like it.

3.  Put some oil in a large pan or wok and turn up the heat!   When the oil has reached a fierce temperature, throw in the beef strips in small batches – you’re looking to sear these to seal in the beefy juices and get some good colour on the outside, because it’ll look nice and taste better, without cooking the beef through. If you chuck it all in at once, there’s likely to be too much water in your pan, meaning the beef will boil rather than sear.  Remove from the wok as soon as it has good colour on both sides and place somewhere relatively cool to stop the cooking process in its tracks.

4. Without wasting any of the nice caramelisation in the pan (although you may want to add a little more oil), sauté the onion, garlic and ginger then add the pepper, depending on how crunchy you like it, and then the broccoli, bearing in mind that you want to get more heat and flavour into the broccoli than colour – you might want to turn the heat down and allow everything to soften and sweeten a bit – for 5-10 mins.

5. Mix the stock, sugar/honey and soy together in a bowl and add to the pan, cranking the heat back up to let everything reduce down.

6.  Mix a couple of teaspoons of cornflour with enough water to cover it then add to the pan, stirring rapidly to let the mixture thicken the sauce.  You’re aiming for a sauce that will coat the beef and veg – not a pool to drown your rice in.  Add half of the chopped spring onions to wilt a little.

7.  Once you’re happy with the consistency of the sauce, put the beef and its resting juices back in the pan for a minute or so, depending on how well done you like it – pink is best!

Serve with jasmine rice, brown rice or noodles and sprinkle with the rest of the chopped spring onions.