We like to use red and yellow bell peppers for this recipe as they tend to become quite sweet during roasting. Feel free to use green peppers too though if you prefer them or happen to have some around. This recipe is absolutely delicious with a stuffing that contains just fresh herbs, various garden vegetables an a small amount of risotto rice. Did you know that there are male and female bell peppers? The female ones are a bit rounder and have 4 sections, that make them easier to "stand up" in a baking tray, they are also a bit sweeter in taste. The male bell peppers have a slightly pointier bottom and 3 sections, they are a bit harder to stand up and they are a bit less sweet. Both types work great for this recipe, it is just a matter of personal preference.
6 bell peppers
2 medium brown or red onions (or a mix of what you have available)
2 cloves of garlic
5 tbsp Opus Oléa extra virgin olive oil + 1 tbsp for the roasting dish
6 tbsp Arborio or Carnaroli risotto rice (dry)
1 large or 2 medium courgettes
1 small eggplant
1 can of chopped tomatoes
1 tbsp tomato puree
a handful of fresh flat leaf parsley (you can be generous with the fresh herbs as they really add to this dish)
a handful of fresh dill
1 tsp of dried mint (optional)
squeeze of fresh lemon
salt and pepper to taste
a couple of medium sized roasting potatoes (optional)
Prep the bell peppers by washing them. Use a small sharp knife to carefully cut a round opening around the stem of the pepper. Remove the seeds inside the pepper but keep the stem piece (cleaned of seeds) that will be closing the stuffed pepper.
Clean and finely chop your onions and mince your garlic.
Wash and coarsely grate your courgette and your eggplant.
Chop your parsley and dill and set aside.
Pre-heat your oven to 180 degrees Celsius.
In a large pan heat your olive oil on medium heat and cook your onions in it until they get transparent but not brown, about 5-10 min. Add your minced garlic and cook for another minute. Add your rice and stir with a wooden spoon to allow to coat with oil on all sides. Once this is completed add the grated courgette and eggplant and stir through until the mixture is homogeneously cooked through. Add your tomato paste and stir through well for another minute or two, then add your chopped tomatoes together with 1 cup of water. Cook while stirring regularly, until the rice has mostly absorbed the liquid, but has not dried out or become mushy, still being slightly wet.
Remove the pan from the hob and let cool slightly. Once a bit cooler, add your chopped herbs, the dried mint and a squeeze of fresh lemon and mix in lightly, taking care that the rice does not get mushy.
At this point the mixture is ready to be carefully spooned into your prepared peppers.
Fill each pepper, replace the lid and make an incision with a small sharp knife at the bottom of it. Then place standing upright in a baking tray that has been brushed with a tbsp of olive oil (or a bit more according to preference).
After filling the tray with the stuffed peppers, add 1 cup of water to its bottom.
At this stage, you may opt to add some peeled potato chunks in the spaces between the peppers (if any) to happily roast along with the peppers with a little bit of Opus olive oil drizzled over them. This can be a nice add-on and is entirely optional.
Place the tray in the middle of the oven and let it roast for about 30-40 min until the peppers have cooked through and browned slightly. Do not worry too much about any browning as this affects the exterior skin only, which can be easily peeled back if it gets too dark.
The peppers are great eaten either warm or cold and keep well in the fridge for up to 4 days in an airtight container. We like to serve them with fresh goat's cheese or feta cheese on the side. They work well on their own as an entirely plantbased main course, but make for a lovely side dish too.