After a year of eating out almost every day of the week, being back in my kitchen feels amazing. And, as fate would have it, my resolution to start cooking again coincided with my new gig as the About.Com Spanish Food Expert. I’ll admit I was weary about taking on more work at such a busy time– too much work was the reason I was eating out so much in the first place! But it’s actually been the motivation I needed to make myself cook on a regular basis, something I’ve realized is essential to my physical and mental health. Cooking is my therapy! So I’ve been busy testing recipes for the Spanish Food site– a challenging feat considering the last contributors already covered most typical Spanish recipes.
Still, I’ve been able to find a few classics they missed, and have also put a different spin on a few classics to present them in a new way. And of course, whenever I make something delicious, I’ll share it here too– although each version will always be slightly different so that if you follow both sites you won’t get bored!
Lately, vegetarian Spanish dishes have been my obsession. They’re incredibly interesting, as it’s often challenging to find vegetarian Spanish food in restaurants despite being commonplace in Spanish homes. Some of the best vegetarian food I’ve ever had has been in Spain (they know how to cook their veggies!) though no one categorizes these dishes as “vegetarian food”.
This recipe for vegetarian Spanish stuffed peppers with rice and cheese is based on Claudia Roden’s recipe. I added smokey ñora peppers and creamy tetilla cheese to my version. Because who doesn’t love adding cheese?
Vegetarian Stuffed Peppers with Rice and Cheese
- 1½ pounds ripe tomatoes, cores removed
- 5 garlic cloves, minced
- 1-2 dried cayenne peppers (depending on how spicy you like it)
- Extra virgin olive oil
- 2 teaspoons sugar
- Splash of sherry wine or brandy
- Salt to taste
- ½ large sweet onion, diced
- 3 T extra virgin olive oil
- 1 ñora pepper (or sub a dried sweet chili pepper of choice)
- 2 large tomatoes, diced
- ½ teaspoon sugar
- 1¼ cups of short grain rice (you can substitute risotto rice such as Arborio)
- About 2 cups of vegetable stock (depending on the rice you use)
- 4 bell peppers
- Creamy cheese such as Spanish tetilla (cow's milk)
- To make the tomato sauce, pulse the tomatoes in a blender or food processor until still slightly chunky and reserve.
- Coat the bottom of a heavy pan with olive oil over a medium heat and add the garlic and cayenne. Sauté for about 30 seconds until fragrant and then add the wine/brandy, tomato puree, sugar and salt. Cook on low for 25 minutes, until reduced. You may want to remove the cayenne peppers when finished.
- To make the rice filling, cook the onions over a medium heat in a heavy pan until starting to brown. Then add the dried ñora pepper and sauté for a couple more minutes. Add the diced tomatoes, sugar, and salt and sauté until the sofrito thickens.
- Rinse the rice under cold water and then add it to the sofrito and stir for about 30 seconds on medium high heat. Add one cup of liquid and bring to a simmer. Then lower the heat and start to add the remaining liquid little by little (about ½ cup at a time), stirring constantly. Only add new liquid when everything is almost completely absorbed.
- Cook this way until the rice is cooked al dente, meaning it is still a bit firm and even slightly underdone (it'll cook more in the oven). Remove the ñora pepper.
- Finally, stuff the peppers. Cut the tops off in a wide circle and save them to use as lids. Remove the seeds with a spoon, and stuff each pepper a little less than halfway with the rice filling.
- Add a cube of cheese (I like a big cube because I love cheese), you could also add a layer of shredded cheese if you prefer. Then cover to the top with rice (but don't pack it down because the rice will expand a bit more while baking.
- Cover each pepper with its top, and place in a baking dish on top of the homemade tomato sauce.
- Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 1 hour at 400°F (200°C). Then remove the foil and bake about 15 more minutes (until the peppers are browned on top).
What’s your favorite version of stuffed peppers?
Check out other Spanish vegetarian recipes!