Mixed Greens Blog

Mixed Greens Blog
Living Sustainably in the Pacific Northwest


Stuff Your Sweet Peppers

I’m not inclined to make dinner with whatever’s in the fridge, though I pretend to when I know there’s something delicious lurking there, a portobello mushroom, a leek, or a fancy chunk of cheese.
stuffed peppers 1 It’s not that I don’t get creative with ingredients, it’s that I favor certain flavors. It’s called being in a rut. Sweet peppers recently called my name and I stepped out of the box. Late in the season, they’re ready for creative stuffing and there are many possibilities. Just yesterday Poppy cleverly disguised her post-election elation with a killer Spanish Romesco sauce made with sweet peppers.

I’ll tell you what I did, but the point is a focus on local/seasonal ingredients and how something that’s familiar, in this case a stuffed and roasted pepper, might be tweaked and made a little exotic.

I roasted and then stuffed three peppers, halved (from Billy’s at the Farmer’s Market). Sea Breeze Farm’s handmade Harissa sausage, which landed in the fridge on a whim, inspired a Mediterranean take on the stuffing. Harissa is a sauce made from chiles, sweet peppers, spices and olive oil, and is a staple particularly in Tunisian and Moroccan cuisine. It has a smoky character reminiscent of chipotle pepper.

With northern Africa in mind I made some couscous, sautéed Sea Breeze’s Harissa sausage with onion and carrot, pinches of turmeric and saffron, kale, a little tomato sauce – the expensive stuff from the backyard, aka the Tomato Sauce Fiasco – and finally stirred in the cooked couscous. Before baking I topped each stuffed pepper with breadcrumbs and grated cheese – Sea Breeze’s Vache de Vashon cheese is perfect. 350º uncovered for about 25 minutes, or until peppers are tender, cheese is browned and mixture is bubbly. I pre-baked salted and olive-oiled peppers for 15 minutes at 375º until they were almost tender, then stuffed them. Not sure that was necessary. Twenty-five or thirty minutes baking time, w/o the fifteen minute pre-bake for the peppers might have been enough and you’d save a step. Finish with a dollop of yogurt before serving or a spoonful of *Harissa sauce.

stuffed peppers 20stuffed peppers 28

So that’s it anecdotally. Basically it’s a classic stuffed pepper with a north African twist. I intended to use black beans and rice and Mexican spices, but the Harissa sausage showed up. That’s the message here – start with a base and embellish with what you have. The base would be the roasted peppers filled with what you like, whatever you have on hand: rice, beans, farro, any sausage, orzo pasta, cheese of any kind. Mix it up.

Stuff a hoop, stuff your face, stuff a turkey, zucchini, a mushroom, stuff an envelope, a ballot box . . . Or, stuff a pepper and roast it for supper. Ours were delicious.

About *Harissa sauce. It’s easy to make, can be made spicy hot, and is fantastic stirred into a bowl of soup a tablespoon at a time. Like a condiment. Intense flavor and color. I’ve made it using local red peppers (see a recipe link below) and stirred into a curry vegetable soup, chicken soup, and fish chowder. A knockout.

Harissa recipe, Gourmet.com

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3 Responses »

  1. Sally, These sound and look delicious. How long and at what temp did you roast them before stuffing?

  2. Thanks to the nudge of your question I went back and noted in the posting that I pre-cooked peppers for 15 minutes at 375º, which was perhaps not even necessary.

  3. The peppers look beautiful and I love the idea of a filling spiced up with harissa. I too am finding it true that when most of the stuff you have on hand is local, you can’t help but create interesting food using seasonal produce and meat produced nearby.