Well it’s the return of spring (although lately it’s been feeling a lot like summer) and it is also the rebirth of my blogging. At the end of every winter, I always have the feeling that this year, the grass will not grow back and everything will be brown forever, and I’m sure that’s how most of you felt about my blog – never to return. However, just as the green grass returned, so has my witty banter and simple recipes.
Whenever the warm weather returns so does everyone’s panic about what they are eating. It seems like no matter where you go, there is a constant reminder that bathing suit season is right around the corner. Just like you spent hours picking out your brand new bikini, what you wear on the inside is just as important to getting your summer confidence back.
I have to constantly remind myself that healthy doesn’t mean bland, unappealing or boring. The first step towards healthier eating is cooking for yourself. When you cook for yourself, you know exactly what you are putting into your body. Take this idea one step further and try to buy local, organic ingredients that have less GMOs and more health benefits, not to mention that when you support local farms you’re often supporting long standing family businesses.
The second thing that happens when you cook for yourself is you’ll start to spend less money and learn to use what you have in the fridge before the winter you takes over and automatically orders from Seamless.
This recipe for Stuffed Peppers and Arugula Salad was literally born out of my refrigerator. I looked at my options and decided that there was something to be made out of these seemingly random ingredients. You may be thinking, “ok, so she had all of these things in her fridge/pantry, but I don’t have them in mine.” That is true, but a good rule of thumb, is always trying to have a few fundamental basic ingredients in your fridge and pantry at all times so there is always something to eat. My go tos are: a grain (rice, farro or quinoa), onions & garlic, a salad or braising green (arugula, kale or chard) and a can of tomatoes. Stick with these fundamentals and you’ll only ever have to buy one or two ingredients to make a quick and easy dinner.
Stuffed Peppers & Arugula Salad
Serving Size: 4 (or 2 with leftover filling)
Total Time: 1 Hour
- 1 large pan or wide, shallow sauce pan
- 1 medium sauce pan with a well fitting lid
- baking sheet
- a wooden spoon
- cutting board
- sharp knife
- a salad bowl
- a whisk
For Stuffed Peppers
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 small yellow onion, diced
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1 portobello mushroom, small dice
- 1 package ground chicken
- 1 8 oz can crushed tomatoes
- 2 tbs red wine vinegar
- 1 small piece of taleggio cheese, rinds removed
- 1 cup farro, dry
- 1 bunch mint, rough chopped
- salt & pepper to taste
- 2 – 4 large red, orange or yellow bell peppers (you’ll want them tall and wide), top removed (and saved) and seeds discarded
- 1 container baby arugula
- 2 tbs balsamic vinegar
- 1 tbs honey
- 1 tsp Dijon vinegar
- 4 tbs olive oil
- salt & pepper to taste
- granny smith apple, julienned or small dice (optional)
Preheat your oven to 350°.
Place the farro in the small sauce pan with three cups of water and a pinch of salt. Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer and cover for 12 minutes. You’ll want the farro to be slightly al dente. If there is any water left in the farro once your timer goes off (there probably will be) strain in into a colander, like pasta, but do not rinse it.
While the farro is cooking, heat the 2 tbs olive oil in your large pan over medium high heat. Add the onions and mushrooms and sauté until the mushrooms have expelled all of their liquid and the pan starts to dry. Add the garlic and cook for another minute. While the pan is still hot and dry, add the red wine vinegar and let it cook down until its almost completely absorbed. This should also loosen any vegetables that were stuck to the pan. Add the ground chicken, breaking it up with the back of a wooden spoon. Once the chicken starts to brown, add the crushed tomatoes, stirring so the chicken is completely coated. Let this mixture simmer for about 5 minutes. Season liberally with salt and pepper.
Add the cooked farro to your chicken tomato mixture and stir to combine. Add the taleggio cheese and stir until it has completely melted. Sprinkle with the chopped mint. Taste again and adjust salt.
Stuff your peppers with the filling until just mounded over a bit, but not over flowing. Gently place the top of the pepper over the filling so there is still space for heat to escape.
Roast your stuffed peppers for 30 minutes.
Let your peppers rest for 5 minutes after taking them out of the oven. Serve whole with side salad.
While the peppers are roasting, make your salad dressing. In your salad bowl, mix the balsamic, honey & Dijon and whisk to form a paste. Add your olive oil and some salt & pepper to taste. Make sure you’ve whisked the olive in completely so it doesn’t separate.
At the very last minute, add the arugula and toss well so every leaf is lightly coated with dressing. If using apples, garnish salad right before serving.