This past weekend, I found a wonderful treat at my local farm stand: big, beautiful yellow and orange peppers for $1.39/lb. I picked up two of each knowing they would make for some lovely stuffed peppers. I never quite fell in love with the traditional stuffed pepper, but typically I do some kind of southwestern spin on my stuffed peppers. However, when searching for recipes for mango chutney, I came across this Cooking Light recipe for Moroccan Chickpea and Couscous Stuffed Peppers. I found it intriguing, but missing something. After some thought, I decided to add raisins and pine nuts – a real palette-pleasing combination fairly common in food from this region. In fact, I am not sure why Cooking Light did not include any dried fruit or nuts in the original recipe, because I think it added great flavor, texture, and complexity to the dish. I didn’t have any chutney but still wanted to use some kind of sauce, so I mixed together some apricot preserves, yogurt, peach-mango hot sauce, and a bit of curry powder. This turned out really well! Here’s my adapted version of the recipe. It’s very healthy too – with everything besides the apricot sauce, it has only 365 calories and 12 grams of fat per serving.
4 bell peppers
1 small onion, sliced thin
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tbsp Moroccan seasoning blend*
1 cup garbanzo beans
1/4 cup raisins
1 cup water
2/3 cup dry couscous
1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted
4 oz feta cheese, crumbled
1/4 cup fresh mint, chopped
In nonstick skillet coated with cooking spray, saute onion for about 5 minutes or until soft, then add garlic and Moroccan seasoning. Cook for about 1 minute more, then add garbanzo beans and raisins, tossing to coat. Add water and bring to a boil, then stir in couscous. Cover pan, turn off heat, and let stand for 5 minutes. Fluff with a fork and stir in pine nuts, mint, and feta.
Meanwhile, slice peppers in half and remove seeds. Place in a large glass dish and cover with plastic wrap; microwave for 5 minutes. Drain any moisture and return to baking dish. Divide couscous mixture evenly among peppers. Bake at 350F for about 10-15 minutes or until heated through and lightly browned.
*This blend is something I happened to have on hand, but if you don’t, I’d recommend using a combination of cinnamon, cumin, and turmeric as the original recipe suggests.
Serving size: two pepper halves