Couscous and Cremini Stuffed Bell Peppers w/ Manchego

 

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
Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F.
Heat a couple of tablespoons of olive oil in a pan over medium high heat and add mushrooms.  Cook the mushrooms for a few minutes until they start to brown then add the cooked couscous.  Add the chopped olives, cook for a minute then transfer the mixture to a bowl.  Add the tomato paste to the same pan; you may need to add a bit more olive oil to the pan, as well.  Cook the tomato paste over medium heat to remove some of the acidity and build the flavor a bit.  Add a splash or two of stock and stir into the tomato paste.  Add back the couscous/mushroom mixture and stir to combine.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Stir in the chopped fresh mint.
Divide the mixture among the bell pepper halves and top with cheese slices. You may have some of the mixture left over.  Place the stuffed peppers on a baking sheet and bake for 25 – 30 minutes or until the cheese has browned and the peppers have lost some of their crunch.

 

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Comments

  1. Love the couscous! This looks like a tasty and easy recipe. My hubby is crazy for manchego – this is a must make!!! Hope you have a great weekend ahead!!! :-)

  2. Your pictures make me want to eat this! It looks delicious!

  3. Gorgeous photos!

  4. Terrific! I am always looking for inspiration on ways besides the traditional way to stuff veggies and this looks fabulous!

  5. Couscous is such a quick, easy and healthy option for dinner, and you can never go wrong with manchego cheese in our house! Your veggie photos are so colorful and expressive – truly artistic. Hope you have a wonderful Easter weekend, Jean :)

    • Thanks so much, Priscilla! I’ve been really enjoying taking pictures of fruits and vegetables and truth be told, they’re a bit easier to photograph than the actual dish I’ve prepared with them. I guess I’m cheating a bit! :-)

  6. I have been in love with Manchego cheese recently, so this is perfect! Looks healthy and delicious.

  7. Nice my friend! I love mushrooms and how photogenic they are but takes a good eye to capture them too love the first pic seems out of a story book. Love stuffed bell peppers never tried them w/as far as I can tel Israeli couscous, a staple in my pantry and I also got manchego cheese.

  8. I guess if you are off rice Couscous probably fools your mouth into thinking you are eating it! But whatever the reason Couscous should find its way onto our plates more often. But what I really love about this post is the intimate and personal style you took with the veg photography. It’s like seeing these common ingredients for the first time! GREG

  9. Sounds really, really good. This is something I would enjoy eating. Simple but with a lot of taste.

  10. Beautiful photos…I stuff some ground meat in bell peppers, but never thought of couscous and cheese on top. What a creative idea!

  11. I was planning to make a similar dish today and then i see this recipe. thanks for sharing :)

  12. Wow I never thought to stuff peppers with mushrooms. This looks delicious!

  13. Hi Jean, I love your veggie photos, they are so original and fun. I like couscous for a change from rice which we also enjoy on a regular basis. The ingredients in your stuffed peppers sound just wonderful and would make a lovely meal. Enjoy your Easter celebration;-)

  14. your stuffed peppers look amazingly delicious! I make cous cous and bulger at school all the time but never think to make it at home…shame on me :(
    thanks for the inspiration!
    Dennis

  15. I really really like that stuffing! Delicious! I absolutely love stuffed peppers…I grew up on this food! But I always make these with the same beef and rice mixture… I need to change it up! :)

  16. I love how you stuffed the beautiful peppers with couscous. You always have such great ideas. I would have never thought of doing that. Manchego and kalamata olives are among my favorites. Sounds delicious. Happy Easter, Jean. Can’t wait to see you next weekend!!

  17. My mom used to make stuffed peppers for my dad and I always turned my nose up at them… however now I’ve really grown to like them! Israeli Cous Cous is always in my pantry and I can see how wonderful it would go with the peppers and ingredients. LOVE your mushroom shots!!

  18. I love bulgur and couscouse…and barley makes a fine pilaf too! But these stuffed peppers are an excellent use of Isreali couscous. They look delicious.

  19. I’m a cous cous lover. Despite my obvious affair with pasta there are periods of my life in which I end up eating cous cous more often than pasta. However, I usually fill bell pepper with rice so thanks for this great inspiration! Oh and I love those first pics of the mushrooms. They are just so professional.

  20. You said the magic word… Manchego! YUM!

  21. Happy Easter Jean. Couscous used to be a stranger in my pantry until my daughter introduced me to it. However I haven’t done anything like this before. .. that’s what I love about blogging, you get a lot of ideas and inspiration. Thanks Jean.

  22. Oh my, these stuffed peppers are amazing. The post just made me hungry…and I’ve been eating all day! Thanks for sharing.

  23. Ooh these peppers look beautiful. I know someone who would be super happy in this household if I found an excuse for mushrooms and couscous!

  24. Beautiful stuffed peppers! I love the bright yellow color, perfect for healthy Spring cooking!

  25. Wow, ALL of your photos are really beautiful!!!!!

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