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Peppers Stuffed with Couscous, Halloumi and Currants

stuffed peppers with couscous, halloumi & currantsThere is no such thing for me as a casual glance at a cookbook. And, when I see one that is esthetically pleasing to the eye with beautifully illustrated drawings, tactile, and delicious-looking recipes I am hooked!   Mr. Wilkson’s Vegetables truly is ‘A Cookbook To Celebrate The Garden‘.  For every vegetable he writes snippets of information including history, nutritional content and growing and harvesting tips.   There are more than 80 recipes so deciding which one to try first wasn’t easy.   Sometimes I am forced to plan my meal on what is available at the time I am food shopping and last Friday I was at a farmers’ market where I spotted a box of mixed baby sweet peppers.  Aha! I will make Mr. Wilkinson’s peppers stuffed with couscous, halloumi and currants.

Mr-Wilkinsons-Favourite-Vegetables-Cover-imageServes 4
adapted from Mr. Wilkinson’s Vegetables

1/2 cup couscous
6 long sweet peppers
1 1/2 tablespoons pine nuts (roughly chopped)
2 tablespoons currants
1 tablespoon mint leaves, chopped
1 tablespoon Italian parsley leaves, chopped
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 1/4 oz. halloumi, cut into small chunks

colorful baby bell peppersPreheat the oven to 375°F. Place the couscous in a heatproof bowl and add 1/2 cup water. Stir with a fork for 20 seconds, cover with plastic wrap and leave for 2 to 3 minutes, then stir again to fluff up the grains. Put aside.

baby bell peppersTrim the tops off the peppers, only 1/2-to-3/4 inch from the top and set the tops aside. Insert a small knife inside the pepper and cut out the seeds and membrane. Turn upside down and shake or gently tap until all the seeds have fallen out.

stuffed peppersAdd the remaining ingredients to the couscous and mix thoroughly. Carefully spoon the mixture into the peppers, compacting it with your finger, then place the tops back on. Place in a small ovenproof baking dish and bake for 30-35 minutes or until the peppers are soft and browned.

The Culinary Chase’s Note:  I left the tops off the peppers as they were baking and this didn’t interfere with the flavors. If you can’t find halloumi cheese try using Queso Blanco or if that’s not available try feta.  I will definitely make these again!  Enjoy!

Stuffed Round Zucchini (zucchine tonde ripiene)

Stuffed Round ZucchiniFarmers’ markets always provide interesting selections of fruits and vegetables and most vendors are happy to share their knowledge of their produce.  I spotted these round zucchinis at the Ridge Hill Yonkers’ Down to Earth Farmers’ Market – aren’t they adorable?

Serves 4

4 round zucchinis
1 garlic clove, minced
3 or 4 sun dried tomatoes, chopped
1/2 cup chopped onion
3 anchovy fillets, chopped
1/4 cup parsley, chopped
olive oil
feta cheese

round zucchiniPreheat oven to 350f. Cut the tops off the zucchini and set aside. Using a teaspoon, scoop out flesh but not too close to the skin. Roughly chop the zucchini flesh. Rub olive oil all over the zucchini rounds. In a large sauté pan, add one tablespoon of olive oil and place over medium heat. Add garlic, onion, and anchovies and sauté until onion is soft. Then add zucchini flesh and cook until soft. Remove from heat; add sun dried tomatoes, feta, and parsley. Stir to combine and then stuff zucchini. Place zucchini tops on top.  Add a splash of olive oil in a baking dish and add zucchini rounds. Bake for 30 minutes or until zucchini looks soft. Serve immediately.

zucchiniThe Culinary Chase’s Note: Any leftover stuffing can be used in another dish such as a frittata.  The ingredients are approximate so play around to suit your palate.  Enjoy!

Roasted Cauliflower with Linguine

roasted cauliflower with linguineIt seems like a such long time since we last had linguine.  The cauliflower in the fridge had been carefully selected for another dish but I wasn’t in the mood and decided last minute to make this.  I always have a bottle of capers and anchovies in the fridge so all that was needed was a bit of spice.  Dried chili pepper flakes are a perfect companion for this recipe.   Capers are an often overlooked garnish, but they make a tasty addition to Italian dishes of all types – used as a seasoning in pasta and salads.  Capers are a good source of protein, fiber and iron.  Cauliflower is an excellent source of vitamin C as well as a good source for folate, vitamin K and dietary fiber.  An easy vegetarian meal to throw together in 30 minutes.

Serves 4
small head of cauliflower, trimmed & cut into florets
olive oil
2 tablespoons capers
4 anchovy fillets, minced
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 to 2 teaspoons chili pepper flakes (or more if you like it hot)
1/2 cup parsley, chopped
500g linguine

Preheat oven to 400f. In a bowl, toss the cauliflower florets with olive oil, sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Place on a baking sheet and cook 10 to 15 minutes or until cauliflower is al dente and bits of brown starting to show. Remove from oven and set aside. Cook pasta according to packet instructions. While pasta is cooking, in a large sauté pan add 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat. Add anchovies and allow to dissolve in the oil then add garlic and chili flakes. Sauté until fragrant – keep an eye on this to make sure garlic does not brown. Remove from heat and add cauliflower, toss to combine.

When pasta is cooked, drain all but half a cup of the liquid. You may need to add this liquid to the pasta. Place sauté pan with cauliflower over medium heat and add drained linguine. Toss to combine and add pasta water if it looks a bit dry. Season and finish off with a splash of olive oil. Serve immediately.

The Culinary Chase’s Note: Adjust ingredients accordingly…I love the flavor of anchovies so I end up using more in this recipe as well as a bit more chili pepper flakes for a bit of heat. Enjoy!

Corn On The Cob – a cool and super easy way to cook it!

Whenever I open my mail I scan through the inbox looking at the subject titles to see which ones merit opening first…I’m sure those reading this post do the same thing.  A few weeks ago a friend of mine, April, sent me an email on how to cook corn in the microwave but what really got my attention was how little prep work there was.  I was a bit skeptical but the idea peaked my interest and I knew I had to give it a go.  Fresh corn is now showing up in the grocery stores and although they’re not local, I cannot resist buying.

Before getting down to the nitty-gritty of cooking corn in a rather unorthodox way, let me point out a few juicy tidbits regarding the health benefits of corn.  It is a good source of fiber, a  phytonutrient-rich food that provides antioxidant benefits, provides many B-complex vitamins (including B1, B5 and folic acid),  and 1 to 2 cups of corn helps to control blood sugar in both type 1 and type 2 diabetes.

Corn (maize) has been around for centuries and was eaten by Native American tribes before European settlers arrived in the Americas.  The Maya civilization ate corn as a staple food crop and ate it off the cob, either roasting or boiling it.  Corn grows in ears, and each is covered in rows of kernels that are then protected by the silk-like threads called corn silk and encased in a husk.

Select corn and place in a microwave.  I can put 4 ears of corn in my microwave at one time…maybe more if I stack them.  Microwave on high for 8 minutes.

Remove the corn from the microwave (you may want to use oven mitts as the corn will be hot).  Place on a cutting board.

Take a sharp knife and cut the end off – about 1 to 2 inches.

Pick the ear of corn up and hold at the top.  In a shaking movement, shake downward and the corn will slide out leaving the corn-silk in the husk.

Cooking the corn in the microwave seems to make the corn-silk shrink and attach itself to the husk leaving the corn to slip out of its casing.

No mess, no fuss!  My kind of cooking!

The Culinary Chase’s Note:  The kernels were sweet, juicy, and tender.  Tomorrow is Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution Day – Stand Up For Real Food.  Share this posting with your children and help educate them where their food comes from.  Enjoy!