It seems that I was on the same wavelength as several other bloggers this week–I put couscous on the menu, something I haven’t served at home in a very long time. My motivation was to find a replacement for rice since, as I’ve mentioned a few times, I gave it up for a few weeks. My self-imposed ban is coming to an end but I’m happy for the pastas/grains that have served as more-than-adequate substitutes for my carb of choice.
Initially, I thought I might have to serve spaghetti a few times a week–no problem with this at all–but I re-discovered bulgur wheat and couscous instead. Regretfully, it’s been years since I last used them in my kitchen but last week, I couldn’t get enough of the bulgur pilaf I served with grilled shrimp and tomatoes. I didn’t miss the rice at all.
This week, I took a fancy to Israeli couscous, cooked it simply in stock, tossed with mint and served with grilled fresh sardines. Taking very little time to cook, couscous makes a lot of sense when you’re after an easy, flexible accompaniment to meat or fish. I found that leftovers can be inspiring, too.
I created a vibrantly colored, healthful lunch out of my leftover little pearls. I boosted the freshness factor by supplementing with cremini mushrooms and making couscous vessels out of orange and yellow bell peppers. The stuffed bell pepper dishes I’m familiar with are typically filled with a tomato-based rice and meat mixture but my vegetarian version satisfied just as well. I cooked the mushrooms and couscous in some tomato paste (tomato sauce would work, too), added more mint, chopped olives and topped with slices of Manchego cheese to give the dish a bit of richness.
This was a refreshingly light lunch for two (2 bell peppers) but I can see this also working as a side dish with lamb, beef or chicken.
Couscous and Cremini Stuffed Bell Peppers w/ Manchego
- 2 bell peppers, any color, sliced lengthwise and seeds removed
- 1 cup cooked couscous
- 5 – 7 cremini mushrooms, sliced or chopped
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste (you can also use tomato sauce for a “wetter” mixture)
- 6 marinated kalamata olives, chopped
- A few splashes of stock
- A few tablespoons chopped fresh mint
- Slices of Manchego cheese
- Olive Oil