Thursday, 5 April 2018

Orzo & Beef Stuffed Peppers

One of my favourite things to do for my loved ones is cook for them; especially those days that I have a couple of hours and have the luxury of "slow cooking," as I like to call it. Yesterday was one of those days that I actually had time to prep and really enjoy each step of a recipe without having to rush through each part. In our household, both my husband and I cook and I absolutely love the way this has worked out because it keeps our menus fresh as we are always alternating dishes and styles of cooking.

I grew up in a Argentine home and so our dishes were very much influenced in its European roots. Stuffed peppers was a dish we ate many times growing up and it's still a cherished one in my home, years later. I love that my son can now help in the prep work and help stuff the peppers himself, although I think he helps me so he can sneak a bit of the shredded cheese!

I usually make my peppers with rice but last night I tried orzo stuffed peppers from Giada De Laurentiis. I ended up tweaking it and taking my favourite things from each recipe as I still wanted beef in my version. You can find the original recipe here if you would like.

Here's my version:

1 1/2 cans of Italian tomatoes
1 zucchini, grated
1/2 cup of parmesan cheese
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
3 gloves of garlic, minced
1 cup of chopped onion
1 teaspoon of salt
1 teaspoon of fresh ground black pepper
1 1/2 cups of orzo
8 oz. lean ground beef
6 sweet bell peppers (red, yellow)
3/4 cup of shredded mozzarella


Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
Pour the tomatoes into a large bowl and break apart using your finger tips. Add the zucchini, cheese, olive oil, garlic, salt, and pepper. Mix.
Bring 4 cups of water to a boil. Add the orzo and cook for 4 minutes (the orzo should be only partially cooked). While the orzo cooks, use a large nonstick skillet with olive oil and heat over medium heat. Sauté onion until tender. Add beef and oregano. Cook for about 5-6 minutes, breaking up the meat with a wooden spoon. Remove from heat when beef has browned. Use a fine mesh sieve to transfer the orzo to the large bowl with the other vegetables. Stir the orzo, beef and vegetable mix to combine. 
Wash peppers in cool water. Slice the tops off the peppers and remove all ribs and seeds. If your peppers don't stand on their own, you can cut a thin slice from the base to help the peppers balance and stand on their own. 
Place the peppers in the baking dish. Spoon the orzo mixture into the peppers. Cover the dish with foil and bake for 45 minutes. Remove the foil, sprinkle the top of each pepper with cheese and continue baking until the cheese is golden, about 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and serve. Make sure to handle the peppers gently when plating them so they don't fall apart when serving. Sprinkle with flat parsley. 
Enjoy or as we say in Argentina, "buen provecho!"


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