With only a week left in our house and 90 percent of our kitchen in boxes, we are making and eating a lot of "instant" food. Microwave popcorn, frozen pizza, and cheese and crackers have all shown up on the menu in the last couple of days when they are normally banned in this house. This will probably continue after we move as well and not only because we may be lazy at unpacking; the oven does not work at the new house and who knows how long it will be before it is fixed?
When I saw this recipe in the New York Times this week, I instantly knew I could simplify it and make it with the few ingredients and utensils I had on hand. At the end of October, fresh basil is a luxury unheard of or at least astronomical in price. (A container of pesto in the freezer is never a bad thing to have.)
Fool Proof Pesto Couscous Stuffed Peppers
adapted from the NY Times
serves 2 as entree or 4 as a starter
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup Israeli couscous (also known as Jerusalem couscous)
1/2 cup prepared pesto, or more, to taste
2 sweet peppers, yellow preferred, halved and seeded
5 cloves garlic
1 20 oz can whole, peeled tomatoes
Preheat oven to 350F.
Heat olive oil over medium high heat in heavy pan. When warm, add couscous and and stir and cook until couscous starts to color. Add 2 cups water and bring to a boil. Cook for 10 minutes. Drain and mix with pesto.
Meanwhile chop garlic in food processor. Add canned tomatoes to garlic and puree well.
Place peppers, cut side up on heavy roasting pan or in lidded casserole. Fill each to top with pesto couscous. Pour about 2/3's tomato puree into bottom of pan. (Reserve left over for another use.) Cover tightly with foil or lid and bake 35-40 minutes.
Serve peppers on top of sauce. You can add extra cheese to top at last minute and cook without lid to melt and make a nice presentation.
These were filling and tasted delicious. I thought of a dozen variations that involved spices, caramelized onions, sun-dried tomatoes and sauteed mushrooms but those are going to have to wait until I have a fully stocked kitchen once again.
Note: I recommend yellow peppers for looks, but the red peppers tasted delicious too. Red was what I had on hand. I am trying to use up everything in our fridge before moving, but that may end up being an unobtainable goal.
Next, I need to figure out how to use all those little bags of rice and pasta in the cupboard that only have 1/2 cup (or less!) in each of them!