5 weeks ago
Thursday, March 19, 2009
This weeks recipe for Craving Ellie in my Belly is Greek Style Stuffed Peppers, chosen by The Healthy Hostess. I was excited to see this pick, because I just haven't stuffed nearly as many foods as I should have by this point in my life. There was the "turkey stuffing incident" in college, the year that my housemates and I stayed on campus over Thanksgiving, prepared Thanksgiving dinner together, and invited our parents to join us. There was a little controversy when our housemate K stuffed the turkey with (among other things) an orange. Lis -- I'm a little fuzzy; fill in the gaps for me here. I think that K woke up early that morning to stuff the turkey and get it in the oven. When the rest of us slackers rolled out of bed around noon, K started telling us about how she prepared the turkey, and mentioned that she stuck an orange in there. Someone (might have been Lisa -- Lis?) said "YOU PUT AN ORANGE IN THE TURKEY?" and the whole thing kind of escalated from there, with K saying "WHAT?!?! You can put a lemon in a chicken but you can't put an orange in a turkey?" Of course, now that I'm food blogging, I know that people stuff all kinds of crazy things in turkeys -- kumquats, Stonewall Kitchen jams, you name it -- but back in the days of Lucky Charms for dinner, an orange seemed pretty out there. I guess K was a visionary and we didn't even know it.
Then less than a month later we almost got into a brawl trying to pick out a Christmas tree at Bruno's Tree Farm -- we all had very different ideas about what a tree was supposed to look like. Bruno finally had to intervene, in his thick Hungarian accent, with "girls, girls, girls! It's not the tree . . . it's the idea!!"
I am pretty sure that David did not have these kinds of issues with his college roommates. There is a Mars/Venus division here, I'm sure of it. But my housemates and I all love each other and have stayed very close over the years, in the way that you tend to do with people you've done battle with over things like the proper citrus fruits to stuff in turkey orifices.
Anyway, peppers seemed like a great thing to stuff -- no sticking your hand up a turkey's butt required, right Katherine? As usual, Ellie's recipe was super easy. Cut the red peppers in half. In a big bowl, mix together lean ground beef, frozen chopped spinach (I used fresh), grated zucchini, onion, bulgur wheat, an egg, oregano, salt and pepper. Stuff the pepper halves with this mixture, and top with stewed tomatoes and feta cheese. Bake covered for 30 minutes and uncovered for 45.
Ellie discusses bulgur wheat in some detail in the narrative that accompanies this recipe, and I really wanted to use it, but I knew that locating it in this town would require a little more effort that I felt like expending on a Tuesday night. Nobody will ever go out of their way to tout the health benefits of Near East couscous, but it had "ready in 5 minutes!" and "in my pantry!" going for it, so that's what I used.
Here they are before going in the oven -- one side stuffed, the other side stuffed with tomatoes on top:
These stuffed peppers made for a hearty dinner. David seemed to really like them. I was sort of "meh." I felt like the stuffing needed a little more flavor. I think next time I'll add some feta right into the beef mixture. I liked the bites in which I got a little feta the best. I told David that I was a little surprised that he liked them so much, and he said "well, it's all about your expectations. I would never order stuffed peppers in a restaurant, for example, so I am pleasantly surprised by how much I like them." I think that was a nice way of saying "your peppers have managed to exceed the very, very low expecations that I set for them." But regardless, I am glad that he liked them!
Even though I didn't love them, I would make them again with some additions or modifications. These were fun to make -- I love expanding my food-stuffing horizons! So thanks for the great pick, Healthy Hostess!