For the fasting Wednesdays and Fridays of fasting before this Easter of 2011, I've tried to treat my family to meals as good as I could, so they wouldn't miss animal products at all. So, I made a stuffed bell peppers recipe with no meat, only with a rice and mushroom based filling. They turned out very tasty.
INGREDIENTS (serves 5):
- 3-5 tablespoons olive oil;
- 1 1/2 to 2 cups of round grain rice;
- 5 medium to big bell peppers (any color, I used light green);
- a can of sliced champignon mushrooms (~ 300 gr.);
- one medium zucchini;
- one large yellow onion (or two medium);
- salt, pepper, fresh parsley;
FOR THE SAUCE:
- a can of pealed whole or cubed tomatoes;
- 3-5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil;
- 1 clove garlic;
- time, parsley, oregano, basil, salt, pepper (all or just the ones you like best).
HOW TO MAKE:
First it is best that you make the tomato sauce, to have it cool later when you put the peppers in the baking dish. It is pretty much the basic pasta or pizza sauce, with the spices that you like. I made mine in a pan with some olive oil, one minced garlic clove and a can of pealed tomatoes, that I crushed roughly with a wooden spoon directly in the pan. I let it simmer for about a quarter hour adding a little water so it wouldn't get too thick. I put in all of the herbs mentioned in the ingredients section, most of them dry, with the exception of the parsley.
Then you have to prepare your peppers. Just use a thin knife to cut off the tops and the seed veins while leaving them whole, like little jars of goodness. Put them aside and start on your filling.
The filling you also make in a pan, starting with some oil, on top of witch you throw the finely chopped onions. Stir them for a minute or two with salt to sweat good then throw in the mushrooms. It you use canned mushrooms (like I did) make sure that you drain them well first. Immediately throw in the zucchini, cut into small, half inch cubes.Stir everything in for a 5 minutes, then add the rice. Coat the rice with the oil for a minute and then add some water (or vegetable stock, if you have some), just to cover the contents of the pan. Bring to a simmering boil and cook until the rice grains are almost tender, "al dente" (you can feel the center if the grain still hard to the tooth). Season well with salt and pepper and set aside. The water must be almost evaporated completely by now.
Next you take a narrow spoon and carefully stuff the peppers with the filling from the pan, nearly to the top. You can cap them off with a slice of tomato. I didn't. Place the stuffed peppers in a tall baking dish up straight. Put them next to each other to keep them standing. Then poor the tomato sauce on top of the peppers. It must be a little runny, and it must cover at least 3/4 of the height of the peppers in order to cook them well in the oven.
Put the dish in the oven and bake on medium heat until the peppers get nice and brown on top (half an hour to an hour, depending on the oven). Serve them hot with a lot of sauce and fresh chopped parsley on top.