"I hate people who are not serious about their meals."

Oscar Wilde,
The Importance of Being Earnest

Sunday, July 25, 2010

My New Favourite Pepper: The Cubanelle

This was my first foray into the world of stuffed peppers (or any stuffed vegetable, for that matter). I have eaten and enjoyed them in the past, at restaurants and other people's houses, but I just never quite found the occasion to make them myself. However, after coming across this recipe during a recent Saturday morning channel-surfing session I decided I didn't need any kind of special occasion.  I'd never even heard of Cubanelle peppers in Australia, so naturally, I was curious to find out what they were all about.  Let me tell you, I am certainly glad I did!  The cubanelles have a great flavour - slightly sweeter than a bell pepper but with a slight spicy kick, they cooked up perfectly in the oven. And the colour! That fabulous fresh green of grass shoots and new leaves - very summery. These were really easy to make, and the Mexican inspired flavours in the stuffing mixture ensured that the kitchen smelled amazing while we were cooking. So if, like me, you were looking for an excuse to make stuffed peppers, you just found it!

Stuffed Cubanelles
barely adapted from Sunny Anderson
makes 6 peppers
(The original recipe is for 8 peppers, but unless yours are very small I don't think you'd get more than 6)

1 packet sazon seasoning
1/2 cup warm water

olive oil

1/2 Vidalia onion, chopped

1 small red bell pepper (capsicum), finely diced

1 jalapeno, seeded and chopped

1/4 cup long-grain rice
(I used basmati)
2 cloves garlic, minced

1 teaspoon ground cumin

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 (15-ounce) can tomato sauce, divided

1 pound/450g ground beef, (80/20 fat content)

6 cubanelle peppers, stalk and seeds removed

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F /175 degrees celsius.
Dissolve the sazon in warm water in a small bowl and set aside.  Rinse the rice under cold water until the water runs clear. Drain and set aside. Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large saute pan or frying pan over medium heat. Add the onion, bell pepper and jalapeno and cook, stirring, for 5 minutes. Add in the rice and garlic and cook for a further 5 minutes or until the garlic begins to brown.  Stir in the sazon water, cumin, and season with salt and pepper. Saute for a further 3 minutes, then remove from the heat, add 1/2 cup of the tomato sauce and set aside to cool slightly, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl and add the ground beef. Mix with a wooden spoon (or your hands) until completely incorporated.
Stuff the cubanelle peppers with the beef mixture, using a teaspoon or the end of a wooden spoon to ensure the the mixture is pushed right to the ends.
Pour the remaining tomato sauce into a baking dish and arrange the stuffed peppers on top. Brush the outside of the peppers with 1 tablepsoon of olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Bake for 50-60 minutes, or until the peppers are golden and a little browned on top. To serve, pour a little of the tomato sauce from the pan over the peppers.


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