Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Jack O'Lantern Couscous Stuffed Peppers with Basil Sauce

Happy Halloween!  Hopefully you have many more treats than tricks today!  I am sitting here in New York typing this post Sunday evening because I don't know if I will have any power as Hurricane Sandy, a.k.a. "Frankenstorm" approaches.  It's predicted to hit us sometime tomorrow morning and last until at least Tues. night.  Last year we had a snow storm this year a hurricane.  Luckily, we already went to a friend's Halloween party this past Sat. and tonight we had our "Halloween" themed supper club.  We brought the kids in costume and had Halloween food.  As I was searching for recipes, I found lots of cute food, like mummy hotdogs, which I plan to make for my kids for dinner Halloween night.  Unfortunately, I didn't see many recipes that involved a high caliber of cooking.  Then I came up with the idea of making jack-o-lanterns out of peppers and then went in search of a stuffed pepper recipe.  I finally found this couscous stuffed pepper recipe which was perfect because I wanted more of a side dish type stuffing versus a meat-filled pepper. This dish can be made vegetarian by replacing vegetable broth for the chicken broth and can totally be a main meal. I just knew that there were going to be other protein filled dishes tonight.  Of course I had to go with orange peppers!  I never make stuffed peppers because I don't really like cooked peppers all that much.  However, I found that orange peppers are much sweeter than green and I actually enjoyed them.  This recipe has an interesting Greek influenced filling.  Posted below are the ingredient amount changes that I made since I made 7 stuffed peppers.  Overall, I found this dish really tasty.  I really liked the basil sauce mixed with all of the other flavors.  The kids weren't big fans, mostly I think because of all of the "stuff" that's mixed in the stuffing.  Normally, they do eat couscous.  With the muffin meatloaves that The Weekend Chef made (recipe coming soon!) and the chicken and pasta that were the other mains, I was stuffed after eating! This wasn't complicated to make, it just takes an hour to cook, so not a good weeknight meal.  I will definitely try making stuffed peppers again and use the orange peppers.
Before cooking

After cooking
Coucous-Stuffed Peppers with Basil Sauce
recipe from, courtesy of Giada De Laurentis


2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 1/2 cups dried couscous
1 cup canned garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained
1/2 cup dried cranberries
2 packed cups chopped baby spinach leaves
1/2 cup (4 ounces) crumbled feta cheese
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
7 medium orange bell peppers
Hot water, as needed

1 packed cup fresh basil leaves
1/2 cup (about 4 ounces) creme fraiche (I couldn't find so I used sour cream)
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon water
1 garlic clove, coarsely chopped
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt, plus extra, as needed
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus extra, as needed

Put an oven rack in the center of the oven. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Filling: In a medium saucepan, bring the chicken broth and cumin to a boil over medium-high heat. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the couscous. Cover the pan until the couscous is tender and all of the liquid has been absorbed, about 5 to 6 minutes. Put the couscous in a large bowl and add the beans, cranberries, spinach, feta and 1/4 cup olive oil. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Stir until all the ingredients are combined.

Slice the tops off the peppers and remove all the ribs and seeds. If necessary, cut a very thin slice from the base to help the peppers stand up. Cut out jack-o-lantern faces, if desired!  Stuff the peppers with the filling and drizzle the tops with olive oil. Put the peppers in an rectangular baking dish. Fill the baking dish with 3/4-inch hot water and bake until the filling is golden and the peppers are cooked through, about 55 to 60 minutes.

Cooks Note: If the filling begins to brown too quickly, cover the pan with foil.)

Sauce: In a blender, combine the basil, creme fraiche, olive oil, water, garlic, lemon juice, sugar, salt, and pepper. Blend until smooth. Adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper, to taste.

Remove the peppers from the oven and arrange on serving plates. Spoon the sauce around the peppers and serve.

Family Rating: 1 1/2 thumbs up.

This recipe was shared at:
Tasty Thursdays
Full Plate Thursdays
Creative Thursday

1 comment:

  1. Nancy, your Peppers are just adorable and I just love your Basil Sauce. Have a great weekend and thank you so much for sharing with Full Plate Thursday.
    Come Back Soon!
    Miz Helen