Welcome to FOOD & FELLOWSHIP: Old & New Recipes from the Green Acre Kitchen. Each week we will share three recipes, both old and new. When the day comes—and it will—that we can sit at a table and break bread together again, perhaps we will all have a few new dishes to share.
Bell peppers are near the end of their season in Maine. Our recipes this week use red bell peppers which are actually green peppers that have been allowed to ripen. The mild bell pepper (capsicum annuum) surprisingly wasn’t cultivated until the 1920’s in Hungary. Bell peppers were developed to contain no capsaicin, the active component that makes peppers hot. Peppers originated from Mexico and Central America where they have been a food staple for over 6,000 years.
Servings per Recipe: 4
Muhammara is a famous dip from the Levant region of the Middle East. Our recipe comes from Kamal Mauzawak. Mr. Mauzawak is a food activist and creator of Beirut’s first farmer’s market, the Souk el-Tayeb.
1 cup walnuts
3 large red bell peppers
½ cup fine bread crumbs
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons Aleppo peppers or 1 tablespoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon lemon juice
½ teaspoon smoked paprika
2 tablespoon pomegranate molasses, more for drizzling
Kosher salt to taste
Roast peppers on a grill or on a gas stove-top burner, turning as they blacken and begin to collapse. If an open flame is unavailable, broil in oven, rotating as they blacken for between 12 – 15 minutes. Once done, put into a bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let rest for 15 minutes, uncover and peel off charred skin, trim pith and remove seeds.
Bake walnuts on sheet pan in 350 F degree oven for 12 – 15 minutes. Rough chop some for garnish.
In a food processor add all the ingredients and pulse until chunky. Put into a bowl, drizzle with the molasses and garnish with walnuts. Serve with fresh pita bread for dipping.
Ingredient notes: Aleppo peppers and pomegranate molasses can be found at Middle Eastern markets or your better supermarkets. If you don’t have time to roast your own peppers, substitute with the store bought version.
Vegetarian Mini Stuffed Peppers
Servings per Recipe: 4
Feel free to substitute large bell peppers and just adjust the cooking time. If you have any leftover filling, shape into little patties and fry. It makes a great veggie burger.
12 mini sweet bell peppers
1½ cups warm cooked rice (short-grain brown or white rice works best)
1 cup cooked black beans
1 medium onion, small dice
1 green bell pepper or 4 mini peppers, small dice
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
2 tablespoons olive oil
½ cup tomato sauce
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon kosher salt
8 ounces grated Cheddar, regular or plant-based
Preheat the oven to 375 F
Cut the top off the peppers and remove the seeds and ribs. Set aside both the top and bottom.
In a medium skillet, add the olive oil and lightly sauté the onion, green peppers and garlic until the onions are just translucent. Combine the vegetables, lentils, rice, ¼ cup of tomato sauce and salt and black pepper in a large bowl and mix until blended. Take ½ of the mixture and pulse in a food processor until the mixture is well blended. Remove the mixture from the food processor and add back into the original bowl along with 4 ounces of the cheddar cheese. The mixture should be sticky and hold together well.
In an 8 x 8 inch baking dish, place the mini bell peppers cut-side up. Evenly divide and stuff the mixture among the peppers. Using the remaining tomato sauce, top each pepper with a small amount of tomato sauce. Pour ¼ inch of hot water or vegetable broth into the pan. Cover the dish with foil and bake for 30 minutes or until the peppers are just cooked. Remove the foil and sprinkle the cheddar on top of the pepper. Return the pan to the oven, uncovered, and bake until the cheese melts, about 5 minutes. On a separate parchment lined sheet, place the tops of the peppers and spray with cooking spray. Bake for 8 minutes in the 375 F oven and gently place on top of the peppers for a lovely presentation.
Roasted Red Pepper Soup with Coconut Milk
Servings per Recipe: 4-5
Coconut oil for sautéing and coating peppers
1 large onion, diced medium
1 large carrot, diced medium
6 cloves garlic, smashed
1 ½ piece ginger minced
2 pods star anise crushed
½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1½ quart low sodium broth
6 red bell peppers roasted and seeded
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon black pepper
8 ounces coconut milk
1 cup fresh basil
Heat oven to 400 F
Spray or rub peppers in oil and roast in an oven or on an outdoor grill. In the oven, roast peppers at 400 F for 20 to 25 minutes, turning regularly until they are dark and have collapsed. They can also be broiled in the oven where they will roast faster. After roasting, let peppers rest in a covered bowl for 15 minutes then peel and seed.
Sauté onions and carrots in oil until onions begin to brown. Add garlic, ginger, star anise and red pepper flakes, cook for another 2-3 minutes. Add the next 5 ingredients. Simmer for 20 minutes. Stir in coconut milk and basil. Blend. Adjust salt and pepper to taste.