I’m not always good at simple. Looking back at some of recipes I’ve posted recently, I realized that I heavily rely on my vitamix and my food processor. To me, these things are not a hassle, but “old me”, (in a previous life, I never used to cook), would completely skip over a recipe if it asked me to drag out my food processor. Even if i could find all of the pieces for it, I wasn’t interested in the mess and the cleanup.
So the other night, I set out to make something that didn’t require fancy ingredients or any kind of gadget. This stumped me for a few minutes and then I revisited Nigel Slater’s book, Tender… which I think is the perfect book when you need “less-is-more” kind of inspiration. His recipes don’t require exact measuring, and they serve as more of a guide than a precise process.
In lazy late-summer spirit, I settled on this herb-packed roasted red pepper recipe with yogurt sauce. I realize the ingredient list here doesn’t look super short, but I promise it goes quick. And feel free to put away the measuring spoons… it’s ok eyeball your ingredients, and alter things as you wish.
adapted from Nigel Slater’s Tender
2 red bell peppers, halved, remove seeds and ribbing
3/4 cup israli couscous (pre-cooked), or use quinoa or any grain you have
3 scallions, white and green parts, sliced
ground sweet paprika, 1/2 teaspoon
1 garlic clove, minced (save half for the yogurt sauce below)
1 lemon, zest and juice (half goes in the yogurt sauce below)
mint, handful chopped, (reserve some for yogurt sauce)
cilantro, big handful chopped, (reserve some for yogurt sauce)
1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted, chopped
2 big handfuls of wilt-able baby greens (I had baby kale)
1/4 cup dried currants
pinch of red pepper flakes
salt, pepper, to taste
1 individual sized container yogurt (about 1/2 cup)
remainder of 1/2 clove minced garlic from above
remaining 1/2 lemon juice and zest from above
pinch of paprika
chopped herbs, reserved from above
salt, pepper, to taste
preheat oven to 350
Prep all ingredients, mix yogurt sauce together and set aside in the fridge until ready to serve.
Place peppers cut side open on a baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil and salt, bake for 15 minutes or until they begin to soften.
Cook couscous in a pot of salted boiling water until al dente (about 8-10 minutes). When it’s finished, drain and set aside. Toss it in a bit of olive oil so the little pearls don’t stick together.
In a large skillet over medium heat, pour a few splashes of olive oil, toss in scallions, paprika, garlic, salt and pepper. Stir a bit, then add lemon zest and kale. Stir some more, let kale wilt down a bit. Add a big squeeze of lemon juice, stir in herbs, toasted pine nuts, currants and red pepper flakes. Add the couscous. Mix together until herbs and greens are just wilted and everything is combined. Taste and adjust seasonings. (If it’s a bit too bold and spicy at this point, that’s ok – once you bake it with the sweet peppers, the flavors will dial down).
Fill the peppers. If all of the filling doesn’t fit, it’s ok, just set the remainder aside and scoop it on top at the end.
Bake, uncovered, for about 10 -12 minutes. Alternatively, if you like your peppers much softer, cover them with foil and bake longer. I prefer my cooked peppers to still have a little bite. (also, I pre-baked the peppers so the herbs in the filling wouldn’t burn – I find, unless you cover your stuffed peppers with a layer cheese, these grain fillings become a bit dry if cooked the entire way with the peppers).
Remove peppers from oven. Spoon on any of the remaining couscous mixture. Top with the yogurt sauce, and any extra herbs.
The sauce is also delicious on some whole grain toasted baguette, which I served with our meal.