Red Peppers Stuffed with Saffron Rice and Pine Nuts

Don’t be deceived; the fish was not the star of this meal. It was just something I bought at Harris Teeter to try some meat on my grill. It was a fine thing to set beside this Red Pepper Stuffed with Saffron Rice and Pine Nuts.

This dish tastes as fancy as the ingredients it’s named after. None of these pricey ingredients are wasted in the dish though; each serves a unique purpose. The basil is bright and a bit spicy, the pine nuts offer an earthy flavor and texture, the saffron brings all the flavors together, and the cheese literally holds it all together. The stuffed pepper makes a great presentation, but, if it seems like too much fuss, you can dice the peppers, saute them with the onions, and bake it all together in a glass dish.

Red Peppers Stuffed with Saffron Rice and Pine Nuts
2 red bell peppers, halved lengthwise and seeded
2 Tb olive oil
6 green onions, chopped
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1/8 tsp crushed saffron threads
1 1/2 cups long grain white rice
1 3/4 cups water
2 cups shredded provolone
1/3 cups pine nuts, toasted
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
2 Tb chopped fresh basil

Steam the red peppers until tender, about 8-10 minutes.

Heat oil in a sauce pan and saute onions, garlic, and saffron until softened. Add rice. Add water and bring to a boil. Stir, reduce heat, cover, and cook 10 minutes. Remove from heat and let stand for 10 minutes, covered. Fluff and dump in a bowl to cool slightly.

Add cheese, pine nuts, parsley, and basil to rice. Season with salt and pepper. Stuff into pepper halves and place in a baking dish with tall sides. Cover the bottom of the dish with water. Cover with aluminum foil and bake at 350 until heated through, about 35 minutes.

Roasted Beet Risotto

This looks like something you don’t want to eat — and it’s not just the bad photography. Generally, food should not be pink. It should not be a homogeneous blob. I don’t know what possessed me to make this Roasted Beet Risotto the first time, but it turned out to be some of the best food that’s come out of my kitchen. It’s rich and creamy, as any risotto should be, but it’s also earthy and hearty.

Last week, when I was making pan after pan of stuffing, Glenn went about the tedious task of stirring and simmering this amazing stuff. In the past, we haven’t been able to find arborio┬árice at Harris Teeter, so we’ve used medium grain rice and that’s worked fine. But we used arborio┬áthis time and it makes a big, big difference. Wow. It was so distractingly delicious that it almost brought the stuffing project to an end.

I think I still have some of this in my fridge and I can’t wait to get back to North Carolina and eat it. I don’t care if it’s ten days old.

Improvised Veggie Stir Fry

Veggie Stir Fry

I’m still skeptical of the whole stir fry thing. What makes it a stir fry and not just sauteed vegetables? Is the wok the only difference? Probably not, if you’re doing things right.

After some limited research, these are the major differences I have found between sauteing and stir frying:

  1. When sauteing, you heat the pan with the fat in it. When stir frying, you heat the pan dry.
  2. When sauteing, you can use fat with a low flash point, such as butter or extra virgin olive oil. When stir frying, you need a fat with a very high flash point, such as peanut or canola oil.
  3. When sauteing, you should pretty much flip the items one time. When stir frying, you should pretty much stir constantly.

For whatever that’s worth. For this “stir fry” we used onions and green beans (leftover from porcupine meatballs) and bell peppers (leftover from pizza). We served it over a combination of wild and jasmine rice that had been sitting in our pantry for six months. The point is that this was a completely found meal, no trip to the grocery store necessary. We fried up all the veggies along with some garlic in peanut oil, added some white wine vinegar, and finished it off by covering the wok and steaming it. It was sweet and sour and the veggies were perfectly crisp tender.