Orzo stuffed peppers get an Italian flavor boost with the addition of a Tuscan herb mix and parmesan cheese. Baby spinach ribbons and halved tomatoes add to the delicious flavor of the pasta stuffing. Garlicky bread crumbs top the stuffed peppers giving the dish a nice crunch.
Picking the right peppers
After unloading the car from the Saint Simons Island trip, we needed groceries, fresh vegetables and fruit to be specific. Our first stop was Lucky’s, our favorite vegetable market. When we walked through the doors, a huge pyramid of colored peppers greeted us. They were on sale!
I just couldn’t pass them up. A red, orange and yellow pepper ended up in our cart. Don’t you just love a great sale? Is there one thing you just can’t pass up?
At first, I’m not sure what I’m going to do with the colorful veggies, but stuffing them keeps popping up in my head.
Red, orange, or yellow peppers are perfect for stuffing. The colored peppers, unlike the green, don’t taste bitter. If the stuffing is already cooked, you don’t have to cook the ingredients in the pepper.
Why should that be a good deal? Well, it prevents the pepper from getting mushy.
We like green peppers, don’t get me wrong. But since the green pepper is the unripe version of the red pepper, sometimes it tastes bitter.
Finding the right filling
You’ve heard the saying “You play; you pay?” In May there were several storms in our area, now that we’re back, there’s yard work to do, like weeds to pull, and lots of sticks and limbs to pick up. In our yard, we have humongous trees that love to drop whatever they feel like dropping.
Since we’re so busy in the yard, that leaves little time to make complicated dishes. Orzo, we decided, will be ideal as part of the filling. The small pasta combines well with other ingredients and it’s small enough to easily fill the pepper halves.
The stuffed pepper flavor, we agreed, will have a tasty Italian zing. Adding some spinach and grape tomatoes increased the veggies in the dish.
In order not to have a mushy pepper, I prepared the filling before going outside.
Once I come back inside, I can bake the orzo stuffed peppers right before dinner.
Baking the orzo stuffed peppers
The yard clean-up took a few hours. I’m glad that the major preparation of the peppers was done. Being busy and eating well is compatible. My mamma always stressed it’s just a matter of preparing ahead.
Once the oven preheated I placed the stuffed peppers in the oven. Now’s the time to relax, pour a glass of wine, and count our blessings.
It’s great to get away but it’s wonderful to return home. It gives us an appreciation of what we have and lets us refocus on the importance of family and staying connected with them.
What do you find is most important in your life?
Dinner’s ready. A tossed salad, seared fresh tuna, comples the meal.
Tutti a tavola è pronto!
Un caro saluto e alla prossima.
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Orzo Stuffed Peppers Italian Style with Spinach and Grape Tomatoes
- 3/4 cup orzo rice-shaped pasta, cooked al dente according to directions.
- 2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
- 2 cloves garlic minced (divided)
- 1 Tablespoon fresh-flat leaf parsley chopped
- 2 teaspoons dried Italian seasoning
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
- colored pepper yellow, orange, or red cut in half membrane and seeds removed
- 1 cup tightly packed baby spinach leaves cut into ribbons
- 1 cup grape tomatoes halved or quartered if they are large
- 2 Tablespoons grated parmesan cheese
- 1/4 cup panko crumbs
- 2 teaspoons butter melted
- In a large pot, boil salted water for orzo; cook until al dente, following package instruction. Drain, reserving 1/2 cup of pasta water.
- Cook the 1 teaspoon of the minced garlic in the 2 teaspoons of olive oil over medium heat. Stir. Once the oil is fragrant but not brown add the spinach, grape tomatoes, parsley, Italian seasoning, salt, and pepper.
- Let cook for about 5 to 6 minutes until the spinach and grape tomatoes release their juice.
- Stir in the cooked orzo and add a little of the pasta water a little at a time so that the ingredients all mix together. Add the parmesan cheese and mix thoroughly.
- Add the remaining 1 teaspoon minced garlic to the melted butter. Pour the butter mixture of the panko crumbs and mix. Add freshly ground pepper.
- To assemble:
- Preheat over 425 F.
- Arrange the pepper halves in an oil sprayed casserole dish. Fill the peppers with the orzo mixture - pile on!! Top with the garlicky breadcrumbs.
- Loosely cover top with foil and set in oven. Bake for 25 minutes. Remove foil the last 5 minutes of baking.
- Let rest a few minutes then serve.
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