Thursday, January 20, 2011

From Odds-and-Ends to Mock-Fancy in Twenty minutes.

How do I know it's 6: 30 in the evening? Because that's when I experience actual hunger. Not the false pains (OBG talk) that are very specific for mint chocolate-chip ice-cream or shawarma-pickles.
Solid hunger pangs, which I try to tide over with a slice of wholewheat toast+peanut butter(Crunchy, of course) or a bowl of cereal because dinner-is-served! happens only after nine at my household.

At six last evening, I went foraging into the store cupboard (I won't call it pantry because it isn't fancy enough, currently) and dug out a nice big bag of arborio rice that had been sitting pretty for quite a while. Not if I had a say.
Arborio rice is a short-grained, glutinous rice that goes into risottos, paella and rice puddings.
It's quite hard to get access to, but the recipe I'm posting below will accept regular white rice leftover from the afternoon quite well.
Arroz=Rice. And I thought it was the brand name!

Next, I opened the refrigerator; half-used bell peppers, half a packet of Cream of Chicken soup and Feta cheese left over from the pasta I made the other day, all crying to be used.
Ooh. I have to use up the Feta by next month. Burgers, maybe?
I went straight to Allrecipes, and did an Ingredient Search. After reading approximately 15 recipes, I made stuffed peppers

This one got mixed reviews from the people who tried it: needs spice; excellent; needs cheese; why didn't you make more?; yummy-licious! Easy to guess who said what if you know my family.
If you want something healthy, easy to make, can sub-in for dinner, I suggest you give it a try!

Stuffed Tricoloured Peppers.


3 whole bell-peppers (I used red, yellow, green)
1 cup uncooked Arborio rice
3 cups soup or stock (I used chicken)
1 cup sliced onion
4 cloves of garlic, minced
2 tomatoes, diced
3 tbsps olive oil
3 tsps mixed dried herbs (I used basil, parsley and oregano)
1 tsp salt, more as needed
Pepper, as needed
1 cup Feta cheese (or a mix of Feta-Parmesan or Feta-Mozzarella)


1)Preheat the oven to 240 degrees Celcius. Line a baking tray with foil; grease it with olive oil, lightly.

2)Prep the peppers. Cut them into two, vertically. Deseed, destalk, and place cut side down on the baking tray. Drizzle over with 1 tbsp olive oil.
I didn't grease the peppers/tray to save a few paltry calories. Yeah.
Mistake no: 1. Please use atleast a little.

3) Place the tray into the oven, and let it stay there for 25 minutes, until the peppers get slightly blistered.

Pick off the burnt bits, but they HAVE to be blistered to this point!
4)While that happens, bring the soup or stock to a furious boil. Pour in the rice, set the flame on Sim, and let it simmer away, covered, for 20 minutes.

Do not keep mixing your rice around, because that will break down the rice to puddingy consistency. At the end of 20 minutes, try a few grains and see if it's done. It shouldn't be al dente, but still have its shape.
Keep checking to see if the rice at the bottom isn't burnt or sticking too much to it. If you feel it needs more water, because it's still undercooked, confidently add.

If you're using left over rice, just simmer it for two minutes with very little water and a stock cube. It gets gloopy really fast, so, careful there!

3)In a big pan, heat the olive oil. Toss in the onion and garlic and let them turn golden. Next, add the diced tomato and give it a good toss around.

4)Add the salt, pepper (even, jalapenos/chilli to tide over the lack of spice that was the main complaint) and the dried herbs. Spoon in the rice, mix it through. Take it off the heat, and add in the feta cheese.

5)Spoon the mix into the pepper halves. Sprinkle with some more cheese (mozzerella or a plain old Amul slice) if necessary. I skipped this step for everyone except my sister(she loves her Amul cheese); because it defeats the purpose of a healthy dish. And cheese can be like ketchup. It masks the taste of the peppers and the rice.

6)Return to the oven for another 5 minutes at 220 degrees celcius. Take it out, make it pretty, and serve!

You can make it your own by adding in sauteed mushrooms, carrots, zucchini, whatever and adjusting the seasoning/oil accordingly. Eat this, and feel the rush of Vitamin C and other antioxidants clearing up your skin and unclogging your arteries (as long as you tone down the cheese).

Mmm. Only this time, for a much-needed change, you can have a self-satisfied, smug smirk on your face.

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