Monday, January 17, 2011

Millet and Vegetable Stuffed Peppers

Stuffed peppers are fun to make and fun to eat. They're pretty and always something special, even on a weeknight. They take a little bit of time and effort but are relatively easy and the results and delicious and fun. 

If you've never had millet before, you're in for a treat! This was my first time using millet and I am very satisfied. Toasting the millet before boiling gives it a nutty flavor and helps cook the grains evenly on the inside and outside. Unfortunately, I accidentally left the lid off the pot for a little while, so I don't think I cooked the millet in the correct way, nor do I know exactly how much liquid I used. I started with one cup, but I ended up adding quite a bit more before the millet got tender. Fortunately, it isn't like rice and is very forgiving if you make a mistake - I had the lid on and off, adding more liquid and stirring, quite a bit and the texture was just perfect.

Grind the hazelnuts in a blender or a food processor, or place them in a sturdy plastic bag and give them a few whacks with a hammer or a mallet.

These stuffed peppers are hearty, filling and nutritious but not heavy. You don't have to use the kale, broccoli and corn listed here - experiment with whatever vegetables you have on hand. The nutty flavor from the millet and the hazelnuts is very warm and pleasant. This is a good meal to have if you are serving meat lovers or if you are transitioning to more vegetarian meals - it is hearty, full of flavor, and using a knife and fork to cut the pepper mimics the cutting of meat. Enjoy!

Millet and Vegetable Stuffed Peppers
  • 1/2 cup millet
  • about 2 cups vegetable stock or water at room temperature (see note above)
  • 4 large bell peppers, any color 
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4-5 stalks of curly green kale, chopped in small pieces
  • florets from 2 heads of broccoli, chopped into small pieces
  • 1/2 cup corn kernels
  • 1/2 cup ground hazelnuts
  • zest and juice of 1 lemon
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • sea salt
  • olive oil
  • Topping ideas (optional): tomato sauce, yogurt raita, warm salsa, fresh herbs
Preheat the oven to 350°. Slice off the tops of the peppers and reserve for another use. Remove the seeds and ribs from the peppers. Heat a few cups of water in a pot large enough to fit all the peppers until simmering. Add in the peppers, lower the heat and cover. Let steam until they are tender but still firm enough to stand up - ten to twenty minutes, depending on your preference. When finished, remove the peppers but reserve some of the cooking liquid.

Heat a tablespoon or two of olive oil in a medium sized pot. Add the millet and toast, stirring, over medium heat until the millet becomes golden and fragrant. Add in the vegetable stock and cook, covered, until the millet becomes tender and the mixture becomes thick, about fifteen to twenty minutes. If there is too much liquid, take off the lid for a few minutes while cooking - if there is not enough, add more and stir. The millet is done when it is soft or slightly crunchy (depending on how you want it).

Heat a few tablespoons of olive oil in a frying pan. Add in the onion and turmeric and cook until soft, about five minutes. Add in the garlic, ginger, kale, broccoli and about a quarter cup of the boiling water from the peppers. Cover and steam over low heat for about ten minutes. Remove the lid and add in the corn, lemon zest and juice, balsamic vinegar and hazelnuts. Let cook until the kale and broccoli are as tender as you'd like and the corn is thawed and warm, five to fifteen more minutes.

Place the peppers standing upright in a baking sheet or dish. A muffin tin works nicely to ensure they don't tip. Lightly spoon the filling into each pepper and bake in the oven until they are golden brown and the peppers are only beginning to wrinkle around the edges - ten to fifteen minutes.

If you'd like, serve these on their own or with a sauce of your choosing.

I prefer red peppers :)

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