Orzo-Stuffed Bell Peppers

Stuffed bell peppers are high on my list of comfort foods. Orzo, a tiny, rice-shape pasta, makes a nice filling.

Serves: 4

  • 2 cups vegetable broth or 1 vegetable bouillon cube
    dissolved in 2 cups hot water
  • 1 cup orzo or rosa marina (rice-shaped pasta)
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 large celery stalk, finely diced
  • 1 cup fine fresh bread crumbs (see note)
  • 1 cup frozen petit green peas, thawed
  • 1/4 cup minced fresh parsley
  • Several leaves fresh basil, sliced
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon dred thyme
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 4 medium green or red bell peppers, or 2 of each

Bring the broth to a rapid simmer in a large saucepan. Stir in the orzo and simmer steadily until the water is absorbed, about 12 minutes. The orzo should be al dente, but if not tender enough, add another 1/3 cup water and simmer until it is absorbed.

Meanwhile, heat the oil in a medium skillet. Add the onion, garlic, and celery and sauté over medium heat until the mixture is golden. Stir in half of the bread crumbs, peas, and fresh and dried herbs and continue to sauté, stirring, for 5 minutes more. Season with salt and pepper and remove from the heat.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Carefully cut a thin slice off of the top of each bell pepper to remove the stem. Cut a very thin slice off of the bottom of each pepper so that they will stand more steadily. Rinse the inside of each bell pepper to remove excess seeds.

Red bell peppers

Divide the orzo mixture among the peppers. Place them in a small baking dish in which they will stand securely. Sprinkle the remaining bread crumbs over the tops. Cover loosely with foil. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes, or until the peppers are just tender.

Note: To make fresh bread crumbs, simply place 2 slices or so soft whole grain bread in a food processor fitted with the steel blade. Process until the bread is reduced to fine crumbs.

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