Veggie paella stuffed pepper with spinach and feta
B E C R E A T I V E I really love stuffed peppers, and am always finding new ways to stuff them! The great thing about it is that it’s really hard to go wrong, so if you’re just starting to develop your interest in cooking and flavour, this is a great way to start. There are lots of different elements of this dish that you can take out and replace with something else. Do it enough times and you’ll have eventually created an entirely new dish! You could, for example: • Use different veg – sweet potato is good as long as you cut it small enough to cook properly (tiny cubes 1cm by 1cm), beetroot, leeks, carrot, broccoli etc. • Use different stock – it’s not as healthy but using white wine (plus a bit of water) instead of veg stock works really well. • Experiment with different salad combinations • Switch spring onion for a different kind – red onion also works really well • Try out other spices; give it a kick of heat with some cayenne pepper, or add a couple of fennel seeds to give it a little lift. Have fun creating - and if you have a spare few minutes, I would love to hear how you got on : )
- 2 cups mushrooms
- 4 cherry tomatoes
- 1 carrot
- 2 radishes
- 1 small crumbling feta cheese
- 350 ml veg stock
- 2 red or orange peppers
- 3 handfuls spinach
- 1 handful your favourite green leaves
- Preheat your oven to 180 ⁰c
- Slice the mushrooms and lightly fry them in a drizzle of olive oil on a medium heat, stirring occasionally
- Finley chop the spring onion and 6 cherry tomatoes and add them to the mushrooms once they’ve started to reduce and brown off slightly, so after about 5 minutes. Give it a good stir.
- Next, get you ½ courgette, and half lengthways. Lay the flat sides down and chop them, giving you little courgette half-moons. Add to the pan and stir again.
- Add ½ teaspoon of smoked paprika as you keep stirring and cook down for a few minutes. You may want to reduce the heat a bit at this stage. As this is simmering away, prep your veg stock as it’s nearly time to use it!
- Add the ½ cup of paella rice to the pan and stir well, making sure you coat the rice in the now smoky juices from the veg.
- Once it’s covered, add all but a cup full of the veg stock. You’ll be alarmed at how much liquid there is, but paella rice really does suck up a lot of water. Leave that to simmer, stirring every few minutes. It should take 15-18 mins to get to the stage where it’s al dente, and ready to stuff into the peppers.
- As the paella is nicely simmering away, we can turn attention to the peppers and the plate prep. Carefully carve the stems from the peppers, ensuring that you leave a hole, but also a lip around the top of the pepper, as this is going to help hold all the paella in when it’s baking in the oven (and it also helps it hold more paella!). Then, using your fingers, pull as much of the white pith and seeds away from the inside of the pepper, then turn it upside down and give it a few taps, and the contents should come out (so do it over a compost bin or chopping board!)
- *Don’t forget to stir the paella : )*
- In the last few minutes of the rice cooking, you can prep your plate however you like, I urge you to have fun experimenting with different presentations - it’s therapeutic and helps you appreciate the food more.
- Once the liquid in the pan is almost entirely absorbed by the rice or evaporated, turn the heat down to its lowest setting and stir in a few handfuls of spinach. Stir it in until the spinach has wilted.
- This bit is fun – get your peppers and stuff them with the paella. You can use a spoon to push it down and make sure it gets in all the nooks and crannies so that it doesn’t collapse when it’s baking. Once both peppers are thoroughly stuffed, pop them on a baking tray and into the oven for 15-20 minutes. In the last 5 minutes do keep checking as everyone’s oven is different. Once the pepper starts to brown you know it’s done.
- Once the peppers are cooked, serve them on your pre-prepared plate of salad, sprinkle with feta and e n j o y : )