My dear mother-in-law makes the best stuffed peppers with meat (one day I’ll ask for the recipe and share it with you guys), but the day after my first visit ever to a steakhouse – I have never eaten so much meat in one evening, or rather in a week! – it was time for a few days without meat. So I made a vegetarian version: peppers stuffed with smooth and creamy orzo with a lot of (North African) spices, salty feta cheese and sweet raisins.
The result was really great and even Wietse – who often feels like there’s something missing in veggie dishes – was really enthusiastic about this one. The really easy yoghurt dressing also goes great with the peppers. This dish is definitely healthy too, it contains many many veggies and spices and almost no fat. And those who really want to take it to the next level can substitute the orzo with wild rice or quinoa!
Stuffed peppers with spicy orzo and feta cheese
- stuffed peppers
- 2 red peppers halved and deseeded
- 2 yellow peppers halved and deseeded
- 150 g orzo*
- 250-300 ml boiling hot water
- 125 g feta
- 1/2 red onion chopped finely
- 1 clove of garlic chopped finely
- 2 carrots chopped finely
- 1/2 zucchini chopped finely
- 1/2 tbsp ras-el-hanout *
- 2 tsp kurkuma
- 1 tsp curry powder
- 2 tsp paprika powder
- 1 pinch cayenne pepper
- 35 g yellow raisins
- 25 g pine nuts
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- Yoghurt dressing
- 3 tbsp greek plain yoghurt
- 1 tbsp mayonaise
- 1/2 clove of garlic chopped finely
- 1/2 tsp harissa paste** **
- 1 tbsp cumin
- 1 tsp cane sugar
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
- 1 tsp lemon zeste
- Preheat the oven to 200 °C (390 °F).
- Put the pepper halves in an oven dish. Drizzle with 1/2 of the olive oil and roast them in the oven for about 15 min. Remove from the oven after 15 min, but do no turn off the oven yet. Meanwhile, prepare the filling.
- Heat the remaining olive oil in a large heavy bottomed skillet on medium heat (a heavy bottomed skillet distributes the heat more evenly compared to a regular skillet; this will prevent the orzo from burning).
- Put chopped onion and garlic into the skillet and fry lightly.
- When onions are shiny, add orzo and bake 1 min, while stirring with a wooden spoon.
- Stir in the hot boiling water little by little, while stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon.
- Add chopped carrot after 10 min.
- When orzo is done (depending on the type of orzo, it is done after 20-25 min in total), add chopped zucchini, raisins, pine nuts, 2/3 of the feta and all spices. Mix well and season with extra spices and/or pepper and salt, according to your own taste.
- Peel pepper halves (if desired)*** and pile the filling into the halves. Top with remaining feta cheese.
- Bake for another 5-10 min until feta is lightly golden-brown.
- Combine all ingredients in a small mixing bowl. Mix well and season, according to your own taste, with extra cumin and/or pepper and salt.
* Ras-el-hanout is a spice mix from North Africa which consists of more than 20 spices (some mixtures even consist of over 40 spices). There is no definitive composition that makes up ras-el-hanout, but commonly used ingredients are allspice, cardamom, cinnamon, turmeric, dry ginger, nutmeg, mace, fenugreek and black pepper. You can find ras-el-hanout in North African shops and organic food shops, but also in most supermarkets nowadays (the supermarket mixture usually consists of no more than 6 to 10 spices, but is perfectly okay to use in this dish).
** Harissa is a Tunesian hot chili pepper paste, the main ingredients of which are roasted red peppers, spices and (vegetable) oil. As you can imagine, it is very spicy, so you should use it with caution and never add too much at once. You can find harissa paste in North African supermarkets and organic food shops, but also in most supermarkets nowadays.
*** The skin of peppers is difficult to digest for some people, so you might want to peel the peppers.