By June Naylor
Photos by Meda Kessler
This month’s What A Dish (Page 62) turns a side of creamy corn into the main attraction with the addition of chopped brisket. We flipped through our own go-to recipes for other vegetable dishes that get extra oomph thanks to a little protein.
We think stuffed peppers are best when made with a little Italian flair from added herbs and seasonings in a crushed tomato sauce. And while rice is a common addition to the ground meat, our choice is protein-rich grains instead. Trader Joe’s Harvest Grains Blend — a mix of Israeli couscous, orzo, baby garbanzos and red quinoa — is our favorite. Ground turkey or bison works just as well as ground beef; use colorful peppers to make a pretty presentation. — June Naylor
Serves 4 to 6 (recipe makes 6 halves)
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 cup chopped yellow onion
- 1 cup chopped bell pepper
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 1½ pounds lean ground beef, bison or turkey
- 1½ cups cooked quinoa, barley or grain blend
- 1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
- 2 teaspoons chopped fresh oregano
- 2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves
- 2 teaspoons sweet paprika
- 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 3 bell peppers, cut in half lengthwise with stems and seeds removed
- ½ cup grated mozzarella cheese
- ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
- Fresh oregano, thyme and basil, chopped, for garnish
In a skillet, warm olive oil over medium heat. Saute onion till softened, about 3 minutes. Add chopped bell pepper and garlic, stirring until pepper is softened and garlic is fragrant, about 2 to 3 minutes more. Remove from heat and cool.
Heat oven to 350 degrees. Turn sauteed vegetables into a bowl with meat and cooked grains. In a separate bowl, combine crushed tomatoes with herbs and seasonings, stirring well.
Add 1 cup of the tomato mixture to the bowl with vegetables, ground meat and grains, mixing well. If the mixture feels a little dry, add a bit more tomato mixture but don’t let it get soupy.
Arrange bell pepper halves in a large casserole dish and spoon stuffing into peppers until full and just mounded. Pour hot water into casserole dish to a depth of about ½ inch. Cover with foil and bake for 40 to 45 minutes.
Remove foil and carefully spoon more of the tomato mixture atop each stuffed pepper and top with cheeses. Return to oven and bake an additional 10 minutes or until sauce and cheese are bubbling.
Garnish with a few extra fresh herbs and serve with more warmed tomato sauce on the side, if desired.
This Asian stir-fry typically uses ground pork, but we switch to salmon when we want a meatless option. Thai chiles add lots of heat so adjust according to your taste buds. The umami comes from the mix of brown sugar and fish sauce. Serve it with white rice as a way to enjoy the savory sauce. — Meda Kessler
Thai-style Green Beans with Salmon
Makes 4 meal-size servings
- 10 garlic cloves
- 1¼ pounds long beans (can substitute ordinary green beans)
- 3 Thai chiles (more or less to taste)
- ½ cup diced red bell pepper
- 5 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- 1 tablespoon dark brown sugar
- 3 tablespoons fish sauce
- 1 pound skinless salmon, cut into ½-inch cubes
- 3 tablespoons honey
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons sesame seeds, toasted
- Lime wedges
Peel garlic and mince. Trim green beans and cut into 1-inch pieces. Cut chiles into very thin slices crosswise. Heat oil in a skillet or wok over medium-high heat. Add garlic, chiles and red bell pepper; stir-fry for about 2 minutes, being careful to not burn garlic.
Add green beans, paprika, sugar and fish sauce. Mix well. Add 1 cup water and cook for about 8 to 10 minutes or until beans are tender and water is almost absorbed. You want to leave enough liquid to make a bit of a sauce.
In a separate pan over medium-high heat, add salmon, honey and soy sauce, and stir-fry for about a minute more. Salmon should be opaque in the center.
Add salmon to green bean mixture, sprinkle with sesame seeds and serve with a scoop of white rice, if desired. Squeeze lime wedges over beans for added flavor.