Roasted Herb-stuffed Vegetables

Serves: 4

Prep time: 50 minutes with cooked grains

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There’s something not only satisfying but loveable about stuffed vegetables, which look appealing no matter what you use for filling. They’re also a good opportunity to experiment with different grains and beans: brown rice, quinoa, couscous, lentils, white beans, wild rice and wheat berries are all good choices. I often use leftover grains, and of course you can throw a little meat in there if you crave it — ground pork is most traditional, but just about anything will work. In any case, add a salad and you’ve got the perfect weeknight dinner.

Ingredients

  • About 2 pounds of stuffable vegetables (see note) Add to list
  • 1/4 cup olive oil, plus more if needed Add to list
  • Up to 2 cups of any leftover bean or vegetable (optional) Add to list
  • 2 cups cooked grains Add to list
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic, or more Add to list
  • 1 cup chopped fresh parsley or basil leaves, plus more for garnish Add to list
  • 1 teaspoon fresh thyme or rosemary leaves or 1/2 teaspoon tarragon Add to list
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper Add to list

Preparation

Preheat oven to 375° F.

For eggplant and squash, cut in half and use a spoon to scoop out a cavity. For tomatoes and peppers, slice off a lid to create a container and scoop out the insides. Discard the seeds and stringy pulp, but save any edible flesh and roughly chop it.

If you have any edible vegetable left from hollowing out the cavity, or are using leftover beans or anything else, put 2 tablespoons of the oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. When the oil is hot, add the vegetable bits, sprinkle with salt and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until the pieces are beginning to get tender and are relatively dry. If you’re using only the grains and herbs for stuffing, skip this step.

Mix together the cooked grains, garlic, herbs, and any other ingredients you like (see below for suggestions). Sprinkle the grain mixture and the inside of the vegetables with salt and pepper, stuff them and, for the tomatoes and zucchini, replace the top slices. Spread half the remaining olive oil in a shallow roasting pan that will allow for a little room between the vegetables and put them in the pan. Sprinkle the tops with salt and pepper and put the roasting pan in the oven.

Roast the vegetables for 20 to 40 minutes, until the flesh is tender and the stuffing is hot; the cooking time will vary depending on the vegetable. Serve hot, warm or at room temperature, drizzled with the rest of the olive oil and garnished with remaining herbs.

Notes

On stuffable vegetables

If you can create a hollow space in the interior of a vegetable, you can stuff it; the best and easiest options are eggplant, bell peppers, tomatoes, zucchini, and summer squash. Acorn and other winter squash work as well, but you’ll need to cook these first. In general, figure about 8 ounces of vegetable per person; so for four people, you’d use 4 small eggplants or 2 medium, 4 fat straight zucchini or yellow squash, 4 large tomatoes or bell peppers or 2 acorn squash.

Stuffed Acorn and Other Winter Squash

Halve the squash, scrape out the seeds, and rub the inside with some olive oil; roast, cut side down, in a 375° F oven for 25 minutes before stuffing as described in instructions. Proceed with the recipe.

Great Additions to Grain Stuffings

  • Crumbled cooked sausage, diced chorizo, or any minced leftover (or fresh) meat or fish
  • Chopped nuts (pecans, pine nuts, walnuts, almonds)
  • Olive or capers
  • Raisins, currants, or dried cranberries
  • Grated Parmesan cheese or crumbled feta

Recipe by Mark Bittman, Food Matters: A Guide to Conscious Eating

Source: Demonstrated on KING 5's "New Day Northwest" show, which aired on September 19, 2012.

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More about: herbs, vegetables

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