Lee's Kitchen: Stuffed red peppers to warm the soul
January and February are packed full with stuff to do. What there is nothing of, however, in snow, although, by the time you read this (almost February!), there may be white stuff on the ground. And I, and friends, are cooking comfort food. For me, it was a pot roast that I made in the slow-cook part of my Instant Pot. The next week my favorite braise of all—chicken Provencal. That recipe came from a long-ago Christmas-time Williams-Sonoma catalog.
I particularly love that recipe because it matters little the numbers of ingredients but the braising liquid is two cups of white wine plus lots of mushrooms and, finally, cherry tomatoes. Heaven on earth.
This week is barley-stuffed red peppers from a friend I haven’t seen in decades. Feel free to use another color of pepper.
In addition, I used half vegetable or chicken broth and half white wine. (I keep Black Box Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon in the kitchen. Because they are vacuum-sealed, it is good on the counter for months. They are also very drinkable.)
Barley-stuffed Red Peppers
1 cup uncooked quick-cooking barley (maybe there is another kind, but this is what I used)
3 cups vegetable or mushroom broth
3 large red bell peppers
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, peeled and diced
1 tablespoon minced garlic
6 ounces presliced portobella mushrooms, cubed
4 ounces feta cheese, crumbled
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1/3 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
hot pepper sauce to taste
salt and freshly ground black pepper
parsley sprigs for garnish
Combine barley and 2 cups broth in saucepan. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium-low, cover and cook until tender, 10 to 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, slice tops off red peppers and remove seeds and inner membranes. Reserve tops for later use. Place peppers on steaming rack over boiling water and cover saucepan. Steam peppers for about 15 minutes, or until tender but not soft. Remove from heat and set aside until cool enough to handle.
Heat oil in large skillet over medium heat. Sauté onion and garlic until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add barley and any remaining cooking liquid and stir until grains are coated with oil.
Add mushrooms and remaining 1 cup broth and saute mixture for about 5 minutes or until mushrooms soften and liquid absorbed. Stir in rest of ingredients and cook about 2 minutes more. Remove from heat.
Stand peppers upright and spoon mixture into them. Serve with tops over filling or propped alongside.
Lee White can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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