As our vegetarian members know, meatless does not mean boring! We also made a lamb version of this dish, and both were enjoyed by all! This recipe can also be veganized, just omit the cheese. Sweet peppers are back in the shares for Week 17, and members will find either sweet carmens or large bell peppers in their share boxes. This recipe will work with any large pepper – even a green one!
Let me be honest with you, traditional stuffed peppers have never been my thing. They’re too big, filled with flavorless stuffing, and I can never be sure the rice will be all the way cooked. When I worked at a natural foods market in Florida, they sliced the peppers in half lengthwise, leaving the stem on and then stuffed them with all sorts of inventive toppings and cooked whole grains. This is the way I love stuffed peppers. Lightly cook the peppers before filling, for this batch I used whole wheat orzo and a spicy lamb sauce. There might be filling leftover after stuffing these, but the sauce will freeze and you can enjoy the leftovers over rice or your favorite grain. Here’s another CSA member tip – our sweet peppers have a great shelf life, so I often save them up for a few weeks if I want a larger batch of stuffed peppers.
Get the sauce simmering on the stove and then split the peppers. Carefully remove all of the ribs and seeds, but leave the stem intact. It’s easier to stuff the pepper this way and makes a nice presentation. The tomato sauce is flavored with Greek inspired spices – the combination might sound odd, but trust me it works. The feta and olives perfectly compliment the sauce. When you drain the orzo flavor it with olive oil, salt, and pepper.
To stuff the peppers fill them with orzo, and then carefully mound the sauce over the top. Add crumbled feta and serve.
Orzo Stuffed Peppers with Temeph
2 bell peppers or sweet Italian Peppers sliced lengthwise, ribs and seeds removed
1/4 chopped and pitted kalamata olives
1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese
8 oz tempeh
1/2 onion, diced
14.5 oz can diced tomatoes
1 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoons ground coriander
3/4 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper (optional)
Salt and Pepper to taste
Preheat the oven to 375. Place the peppers skin side down in a skillet or baking dish, drizzle with olive oil, salt and pepper. Bake for 15 – 20 minutes until softened but still holding their shape. Reserve.
Cook one cup of orzo, according to package directions. Drain, and add 1 tablespoon olive oil, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and a few grinds of black pepper. Reserve.
Heat a 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat in a large sauté pan. Brown the tempeh on all sides. Transfer tempeh to a bowl, and add the onion over medium low heat, and sauté until translucent. Add tomatoes, and spices. Simmer uncovered for about 10 – 15 minutes, until sauce is thickened. Add the cooked tempeh and olives back to the pot, and cook for an additional 5 minutes. Remove from heat, and taste. Adjust salt if necessary.
Assemble Peppers. Fill cooked pepper halves with orzo, then mound sauce over the top. Divide feta evenly among peppers, and serve. Leftover orzo and remaining sauce can be eaten as leftovers. Sauce will freeze well.
Gluten Free Variation. Sub brown rice for orzo, or use gluten free orzo.