This summer kind of blew by. Somehow, in July and August, I attended two weddings and two bridal showers, hosted one bachelorette party, went on two vacations, visited one hospital (hello food poisoning!) and moved to a new apartment. It’s been a whirlwind of fun and exciting experiences, but at this point, I’m really craving routine. (Is that an incredibly boring thing to admit? Does this mean I’m getting old?)
But fall should hopefully be slower.* I’ve missed coming home from work and putting together a relatively healthy but extremely delicious dinner, something that I used to do all the time but have only done in fits and spurts this year. I, who used to be the queen of packing lunches for work, now buy my lunch four times a week, an expensive habit that frankly, has gotten a bit boring. And while I’ve really enjoyed my inadvertent pizza tour of NYC, there’s something extremely meditative about chopping and stirring and tasting that helps me wind down after a busy day.
It helps that all of a sudden, I’m seeing delicious recipes EVERYWHERE. I’ve bookmarked so much stuff in the past month that my recipe Google doc takes a full minute to load, and that’s before the “fall haul” rolls in at the farmer’s market. I vacillated between so many options that I wandered through Whole Foods in a complete frenzy, putting things in my cart and then putting them back repeatedly before finally cobbling together a completely made-up-in-my-head recipe for orzo-stuffed peppers that vaguely resembled this. (This is next on my list, followed by this and this. Let’s just hope I don’t have a total meltdown in the grocery store again … )
Traditional stuffed peppers can be a lot of work on a weeknight. You have to make the filling, then you stuff, then you bake and then, over an hour later, you finally eat. Well, ain’t nobody got time for that. I halved the peppers and roasted them while I made the filling, which cut down significantly on the prep time, and since I’ve become a decent kitchen multi-tasker, I was eating less than 45 minutes after I started cooking. Which left me plenty of time to pick up my least favorite fall routine: watching the Redskins lose.
*Only things on the agenda: a Beyonce concert, a Kanye concert, a Penn State football game, a REDSKINS football game(!!!), a Michigan football game and a corresponding trip to Detroit, a Berkshires mini-wedding for my sister, a birthday for myself, and oh by the way, it’s kind of my job to cover the 2016 presidential election. So maybe “slow” is relative …
- 3/4 cup orzo
- 6 large bell peppers
- 1 tablespoon oil
- 1 shallot, minced
- 2 medium cloves of garlic, minced
- 1 pound ground beef or turkey (you may need a touch more oil if you use turkey)
- salt and pepper, to taste
- 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary
- 1/2 teaspoon dried basil
- 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
- 5 ounces baby spinach, chopped coarsely
- 1/4 cup black olives, chopped coarsely
- 1/4 cup shredded ricotta salata or mozzarella
- Prepare the orzo according to package directions, cooking to al dente. Rinse in cold water (to stop the cooking process), then drain and set aside to cool.
- Preheat the oven to 400F. Slice the bell peppers in half, then remove the ribs and seeds. Place the halves, cut side up, on a lined baking sheet, then roast for 30 minutes, until the peppers are slightly charred. Use a paper towel to absorb any water that has pooled in the pepper halves.
- While the peppers are in the oven, heat the oil on medium heat in a large skillet. Add the shallot and garlic and saute for 2-3 minutes, until they have softened. Add the ground beef and brown, using a wooden spoon to break the meat into crumbles.
- Stir in the salt, pepper, crushed red pepper, rosemary, basil and thyme. Add in the chopped spinach and saute just until the spinach has wilted, 2-3 minutes. Stir in the chopped olives and orzo, then remove from the heat.
- Spoon the filling into each pepper half. Sprinkle the shredded cheese on top and serve.