If you've been following this blog for any amount of time, you may have noticed a pattern: when I find a new basic that I like, I try out lots of different variations. This happened with frittatas. Then again with risotto. And yes, now I'm on a stuffed pepper kick!
On the train on my way home from work the other day, I was going through the contents of my kitchen in my head. We'd received the weekly CSA delivery the day before, so there were fresh gypsy peppers on hand that would definitely need to be involved in the evening's meal. Ever since I made the rice stuffed peppers last week, I'd been thinking about other potential fillings. One that kept coming to mind was polenta. So I started thinking about what would go well with peppers and polenta... Once my mind landed on black beans, I knew that was the direction I would take my next attempt at stuffed peppers.
Next, I started thinking about sauces. I wanted some spice. And maybe a little smokiness. There's an enchilada-like sauce in one of my cookbooks - it's intended in the recipe to be a roasting sauce for fall vegetables. But I thought a variation of it would be pretty tasty over my soon to be stuffed peppers, so on my walk from the train home, I popped into the grocery to pick up canned chipotle in adobo sauce (the secret ingredient!).
I could taste the peppers at this point, and was super exited to see if they would turn out as good as I imagined. As I was prepping the ingredients, I made a last minute decision to slice the peppers horizontally (rather than cut the top off and actually stuff them; since I didn't actually mix the stuffing ingredients together, this was my way of ensuring you get a good mix of flavor in every bite). I guess that means really these should be called filled peppers, but you get the idea. Here's what I did:
Polenta Stuffed Peppers
4 gypsy peppers (or 2 bell peppers), halved lengthwise and de-seeded
1/2 c. dry polenta (corn grits)
15 oz. diced tomatoes
1/2 cup cilantro
1 1/2 Tbsp. canned chipotle in adobo sauce
1 tsp. lime juice
15 oz. canned black beans, drained and rinsed
3 oz. firm tofu, chopped into small pieces (optional)
Make the sauce by pureeing tomatoes, cilantro, chipotle/adobo, and lime juice in a food processor until smooth.
Bring 1 1/2 cups water to boiling in a medium pot. Add polenta, mix, and turn the heat to low. Cook, stirring occasionally until mixture thickens.
Spread a couple spoonfuls of sauce in a baking dish and spread to cover. Place the peppers, cut side up, into the dish. Fill each half with polenta. Spoon black beans and tofu (if using) over each pepper, then top each with a generous spoonful (or more!) of sauce.
Bake 30 minutes in a 350 degree oven.
The peppers turned out just as tasty as I imagined! There will likely be more stuffed/filled pepper recipes to come if they keep arriving in the CSA delivery. I'm thinking perhaps my next version will feature a Greek twist...