Thursday, January 13, 2011

Stuffed Peppers & Sangiovese


January 13: Dinner

Giada de Laurentiis was one of my primary inspirations to begin cooking. She made me want to cook, embrace my Italian heritage, and look amazing doing it. (Still working on that last part.)

This dinner came from her cookbook, Giada’s Kitchen, and the entire recipe for tonight’s orzo-stuffed peppers can be found here. I wanted to do something a little more complicated, something out of my comfort zone, but a meal that was relatively cheap.

I should note that I cut her recipe in half, and I used diced canned tomatoes instead of whole tomatoes, and I left off the basil garnish.

Basics: Mixed can of diced Italian tomatoes, grated zucchini, chopped mint, minced garlic, salt, pepper, and freshly grated Pecorino Romano cheese in a bowl. After cooking orzo pasta in chicken broth for about four minutes, drained orzo and added to other mixture. Cut tops from peppers, removed seeds, shaved a bit from bottom of peppers so they stood upright, and filled with mixture. Covered with foil and baked at 400 degrees for 45 minutes, then removed cover and added more cheese to top before baking another 15 minutes.



In retrospect, I would have puréed the tomatoes instead of leaving them in pieces. Also, I may have overcooked the orzo prior to stuffing and baking, but my timing on the organization of the dinner was off. If I was Giada, I would’ve done it neatly, without getting cheese on my floor, in only a few minutes! But alas, I don’t have an editor.   

Results:
This was surprisingly delicious and filling. The only oddity about it was that the skin wanted to peel itself from the cooked peppers, and I wanted to help it along, but there was really no point to that. It just bugged me that the skin was curling up a bit. Also, as I mentioned, the bits of tomatoes clashed a little with the peppers, and I will purée them next time for a smoother center to my pepper. I also used only half of the recipe but had enough filling for a fourth pepper, which I luckily bought for another meal, so I had four full peppers instead of the three that I planned for. Overall, the taste was wonderful, and the peppers held together. Despite having to cook for an hour, the prep time was only about 20 minutes, though I added another five minutes to examine my fingernail that I cut into with my monstrous knife. (No horrible injury sustained.)



What I thought was going to be my first food failure of the year turned out quite nicely. Going to have to increase the difficulty of my challenges!

Wine:

I decided on a red wine for this all-in-one meal, and it was one of the six wines that my mom and sister sent to me for Xmas. The Sangiovese was from the Alazar Winery & Vineyards in Sonoma County, California. It was a 2008 vintage, and it certainly had a little bite to it. I would say that it was a bit peppery, dry but with some kick, which was a great companion to my pasta/pepper dinner. It added a lovely spice to the meal.


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