Every once in while I'll experience a bit of serendipitous activity in the kitchen. You know the drill. You went shopping, only to find certain items not in the store, or you forgot to pick them up, or the freaking foodie store you planned to go to is CLOSED ON TUESDAYS. Ahem.
So I had this recipe for Greek-style vegetarian stuffed peppers, and ended up with the following recipe, instead, having substituted what was on hand, which turned out to be absolute delight for the taste buds. I'm having the leftovers (what little bit there was) for lunch tomorrow, and no one else had better steal them (the warning is meant for DH, who is working from home tomorrow. Are you reading this, dear?).
From-the-Fridge-and-Pantry Greek-style Vegetarian Stuffed Peppers
1 medium sweet onion, diced
3 oz. or half a bag of baby (or other) spinach (washed if not already cleaned), sliced into ribbons
salt and pepper
2 cups cooked Israeli couscous, prepared according to package directions
grated zest from about a half a shrunken lemon
juice from same
5 oz. feta cheese (if you actually shop for this item and don't go with what's in the fridge, get good, imported Greek sheep's milk feta in brine), (drained if need be and) crumbled
1/2 t. dried oregano
1/2 t. dried thyme
1 t. dried Italian parsley
16 green olives (I happened to have some French-style green olives without pimentos on hand)
4 medium bell peppers (I had 1 HUGE and 2 medium tri-colored peppers from Trader Joe's--the red pepper tasted best)
1 cup water
1. Heat oven to 375 or so. Higher if you're in a hurry (but not much higher or you'll have crispy-on-the-outside-raw-on-the-inside food), or about 350 if you've got an hour or so until everyone is ravenous.
2. Cook onion in about a tablespoon of EVOO on medium-low heat for 5-10 minutes. Add spinach and cook until greens are wilted, about 2-3 minutes. Season with a bit of salt and pepper (remember the feta and olives you'll be adding later), and set aside.
3. In a medium-sized bowl, combine the cooked couscous, lemon zest, lemon juice, feta cheese, herbs, olives, and onion/spinach mixture. Taste to correct seasonings.
4. Cut off the top 1/2 inch or so of your peppers. Save them to use as a lid once your peppers are stuffed. Using a paring knife, trim away all the ribs and seeds from the peppers. If necessary, trim away a small slice on the bottom of any peppers that will not stay upright in your baking dish. Try not to make a hole to the inside, or at least not a very big one (she says with the authority of experience).
5. In a smallish baking dish, place peppers and fill with couscous-spinach mixture. Put the caps back on the peppers. (Save leftover filling, if any, to heat in the microwave for lunch the next day or the day after that. If you can resist eating it up with a spoon immediately, that is.) Pour the water into the bottom of the pan.
6. Bake for 45 minutes at 375, or until peppers are soft and slightly browned, and filling is hot.
Next time I'm going to double the recipe so that there are leftovers for several lunches instead of just one. Maybe I'll feel like sharing then.