Baked Peppers with Spicy Pilaf

Every Sunday, I spend a fair bit of time prepping, baking, puréeing, freezing.. just anything that will simplify weeknight meal preparation. The ideal dish to me is one that can be completely assembled ahead of time and left in the refrigerator to be cooked on demand. Stuffed vegetables offer this convenience in a tasty, self-contained, nutritious package. If the filling is worked intelligently, it can very easily be transformed from a humble side to a stellar main.

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I love the smoky flavour of a roasted green bell pepper and it is usually my veggie of choice when it comes to stuffing. The milder, sweeter, vibrantly coloured varieties present stunningly, so I add a few of those as well. When choosing what to put in it, the sky is the limit. You cannot go wrong here. Throw in anything you like. It is a great vehicle for using up leftovers. This particular recipe combines grains with legumes and greens for a complete and highly satisfying dinner. Serve with some Greek yogurt or a rich tomato sauce (jarred is just fine) to round off the meal. 

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Ingredients (serves 4)

1 onion, chopped

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 " piece ginger, minced

2-3 tomatoes, chopped

1 tsp ground cumin

1 tsp garam masala or curry powder

1/2 tsp ground turmeric

1/2 cup basmati rice or any other grain/grain alternative

1 -1 1/2 cups water or vegetable stock. If using other grains/alternatives, please follow instructions on the package

1 - 15oz can garbanzo beans, washed and drained

1 cup spinach leaves (packed), chopped

A generous handful mint leaves, chopped

4 bell peppers

Oil

Salt to taste

Instructions

Heat the oil and sauté the onion, garlic and ginger until golden. Add the tomatoes and spices and continue cooking until soft. Tip in the rice, stir to coat and pour the water or stock. Cover and cook on low for 15-20 minutes until done. Take care not to burn. Fold in the garbanzo beans, spinach and mint.

Preheat oven to 350F.

Slice the top off the peppers. Cut the main core and scoop out any seeds. The bottoms might need a trim if they refuse to stand tall. Fill each pepper generously. Place them on a pan filmed with oil and bake covered for about an hour or until the peppers are cooked. 

Serve hot with a crisp salad, mango chutney, Greek yogurt or tomato sauce.