Saturday, June 23, 2012

southwest stuffed bell peppers

A recent clear sign that I'm feeling fully settled in the new house and new city: I signed up for a local CSA. This means that every Tuesday, a box will arrive at our doorstep filled with fresh fruits and vegetables from local farms. The first delivery arrived last week with a wide variety of mouthwatering contents: nectarines, baby bok choy (yummm), romaine lettuce, beets, 3 heads of garlic, an avocado, carrots (from Coachella!) and two beautiful green bell peppers.

I love getting a box full of surprises each week. Even though I'm pretty adventurous at the grocery store and farmers' market, inevitably the box contains something (or sometimes, a number of things) that I likely would not have considered buying. This often leads to meals that I otherwise likely would not have thought to make. I love that sort of inspiration and the "outside of the box" thinking (pun intended!) it pushes me to partake in.

The challenge last week was that it had slipped my mind that the box was coming when we grocery shopped the weekend prior. Which left us with more than normal amounts of produce. Not a bad problem to have, but I had to get creative to ensure nothing went to waste. So, while the green bell peppers were beautiful, I had to figure out a good way to put them to use along with the red and yellow bell peppers I'd picked up at the grocery store. Enter stuffed peppers.

Before the box arrived, one of the week's dinner dishes in my head involved squash and black beans. I decided to repurpose these, plus some other ingredients I had on hand, into a southwestern pepper stuffing.

We ate two of the peppers hot out of the oven with a big side salad. The remaining two went directly into the freezer, to be rebaked at a later date, so that we could refocus our energies on eating the rest of our veggies over the remainder of the week!

Southwest Stuffed Bell Peppers
Serves 4

4 bell peppers, tops cut off and seeds removed (I chopped the tops and threw them in our salad)
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1/2 red onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 small jalepeno, seeded and minced
a sprig of fresh oregano, chopped
2 Tbsp. cumin
2 bottleneck squash, diced
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed well
1 1/2 cups cooked brown rice
1/2 cup salsa
1/2 cup cheese, shredded (I would have used monterey jack if I had it, but in this case used the cheddar we had on hand)
sour cream (for topping, if desired)

Heat a large pot of water over high heat until boiling. Add peppers and boil 4 minutes. Remove carefully with tongs (another good use for the instrument I didn't see the need for but Randy convinced me were essential) to drain on a paper towel.

Heat 1 Tbsp. olive oil in a medium pan over medium heat. Add onion and garlic and saute until translucent. Add oregano and cumin, stirring to coat. Add jalepeno and cook 1 min. Add squash. Cook 2 minutes, until squash just starts to become tender. Remove from heat.

In a large bowl, mix squash mix together with beans, rice, and salsa.

Use the remaining 1 Tbsp. of olive oil to oil the bottom of a glass baking dish. Fill each pepper with the squash-bean-rice mixture and place in baking dish, open side up. Top with grated cheese.

Bake in a 350-degree oven for 30 minutes. Serve hot, topped with sour cream. Enjoy!
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