Happy Valentine’s Day to you! Thought I’d share something pretty and red.
These beautiful red peppers are stuffed with a couscous salad and topped with a mixture of low fat Greek yogurt and egg. I think the presentation is so much more pleasing to the eye than the traditional stuffed peppers that stand straight up, and they are easier to eat as well.
To prepare the peppers, rinse and pat 4 large red bell peppers dry. Cut off the tippy top of the stem, and then use a sharp knife to slice right through that stem to cut the peppers in half lengthwise. This method helps the peppers maintain their shape. Pull out the seeds and the white pith of the peppers, and lay them out on a sheet pan. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. You’ll find some wiggle room in my measurements below. You know that I cook with my senses…how does it look? Feel? Smell? So, the goal is to make a salad that has a lovely array of colors and textures…
For the salad:
1 Cup whole wheat couscous
1 ½ Cups chicken broth
3 large cloves garlic
½ – ¾ Cup pine nuts, toasted in a dry pan over medium low heat until golden brown
2 ribs celery, diced small
2 carrots, peeled and shredded
2 T or about ¼ of a medium red onion, minced
1 Cup sweet peas, defrosted
2 handfuls dried cranberries (as much as you like for color)
Splash of apple cider or champagne vinegar
Small handful fresh cilantro leaves, chopped
Small handful fresh parsley leaves, chopped
Salt and pepper to taste
In a medium pot, bring broth to a boil. When boiling, add a pinch of salt and pepper and couscous. Stir, cover the pot and remove from heat. Let stand 5 minutes, then transfer to a big bowl. Press garlic into the hot couscous, fluff with a fork, and let it cool down. When cool, add the rest of your salad ingredients, drizzling with EVOO to achieve the movement you like. Taste and adjust seasoning to your liking.
In a medium bowl, mix together:
1 6 oz container low fat Greek yogurt
good pinch of salt and pepper
Then, drizzle your egg and yogurt mixture over your peppers. Roast peppers in the oven for about 45 minutes, or until they become browned on top.
Serve as a vegetarian entree or as a side dish to the protein of your choice. The beauty of this recipe is that you can tweak the flavors in any direction you like, and you can mix up your salad ingredients based on what you have on-hand. You can change out the pine nuts for another type of nut or seed. Leave out the cilantro and go Italian. Or, add scallions and peanuts, rice wine vinegar and sesame oil and embrace some Asian flare. You can certainly present the salad on its own too. My mom served it to the folks in her office alongside a slow cooked turkey roast, and the whole meal was a huge hit. Play with it! And make this idea your very own.
I’m wishing you a Valentine’s Day full of love. It’s time for me to head to the Farmer’s Market, where the flower section has exploded and taken over the fruit department. I hope to see lots of red, pink, and smiling faces.
Happy cooking and eating to you!