Puy Lentil Stuffed Peppers – a real veggie treat!

For four people, find:

  • 1 mug of puy lentils (other lentils are available, but puy are the best for this and usually most other lentil dishes)
  • 4 capsicum (bell) peppers – red/orange/yellow/purple are best, but green will do fine
  • 2 onions, chopped.  I prefer red, but hey……
  • 3 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 stalk of celery, cut into itsy-bitsy bits.  (I don’t like celery as such, but it does add to the dish in a nice way.)
  • 1 large carrot , cut into li’l bits
  • 1 small courgette, also cut into li’l bits
  • 1 can of chopped tomatoes
  • An indeterminate amount of spinach leaf (in other words ‘get what you get and use that’)
  • A good glug or two of olive oil (not the expensive one…..or veg oil…. It really doesn’t matter much)
  • Fresh, chopped rosemary (or dried) – a teaspoonful (Question – How big’s a teaspoon…..?)
  • The same of thyme (or dried)
  • A good mugful of veg stock (use a veg oxo cube if you like)
  • Grated cheese – amount and type of your choosing
  • Lemon juice – from a lemon?
  • Fresh parsley, roughly chopped across the bunch
  • Seasonings
  • Large frying pan
  • Saucepan
  • Casserole dish or oven tin

 

For the lemon breadcrumb topping:

  • ½ mug of breadcrumbs (dry or freshly blitzed, or even bought in a box – your choice)
  • The grated zest of a lemon
  • More thyme, as above
  • 1 tablespoon oil (avoid engine or baby….)
  • A load of fresh parsley, chopped rustically.   This is really a necessity!
  • A bowl in which you mix the topping…..
  • …and a spoon…..
  • ….and….

 

Method:

  • Rinse the lentils.  They are often quite dusty.
  • Pop the lentils into a saucepan, covering generously with cold water.  Add a good amount of salt – the lentils need it.
  • Bring to the boil over a good heat. Turn down the heat to minimum, partially cover and simmer for 15 mins.  That’s all they’ll need, as you’re going to put ‘em into the oven soon.
  • Drain the lentils.  (I’d normally recommend saving the boiling water for a soup base, but lentil water isn’t good enough to use.)  You might want to use the water to blanch the peppers though…..
  • Cut 4 peppers in half, removing the seeds and white pith, but cutting across the seed head so that the stem stays where it is. (It’s only for aesthetics…. You ain’t gonna scoff it).
  • Bring a saucepan of water to a boil (perhaps use the lentil water….. oh, buggrit, we went an’ chucked it down the sink, didn’t we!) and pop the peppers in, keeping the heat going under.  After 3 mins, take ‘em out and pop ‘em into cold water (cheffie types will already have a bowl of iced water read, probably with heart-shaped ice cubes….. I would just drain off the boiling water and fill with tapwater.  I ain’t not no chef!)
  • Preheat oven to 200C
  • Now we build the filling!  Yo!
  • In a large frying pan (or a small one if that’s what y’got) over a medium heat, chuck in the oil, onions, celery, carrots, courgettes and garlic and sauté for 5 minutes.
  • Oil a casserole dish of some sort and place the peppers neatly in.  (Remember that when this is cooked and finished, this will be taken to the table so if you intend to impress someone for some deeply nefarious reason, start plotting it now……. Hee-hee!)
  • Chuck the can of chopped toms, herbs, seasonings, all into the frying pan.
  • Throw in the lentils.  Season with salt and pepper. Stir for a mo or two. Chuck in the spinach, parsley and lemon juice.  Mix well.
  • Turn off the heat, take the pan to the peppers and stuff them generously.  The remainder can be put between the peppers to help them keep their shape.
  • Cover with a tent of tin foil, popping ‘em into the oven.
  • Heat some oil in the frying pan. Add the breadcrumbs and thyme, cooking for a few mins until the breadcrumbs are thoroughly coated. Chuck in the lemon zest and chopped parsley, Season quite heavily.  Have the grated cheese ready.
  • After 25-30 mins, take the dish out of the oven, remove the foil and sprinkle the peppers with the topping and then the cheese. Shove ‘em back in, uncovered for another 15 mins until the tops are a golden brown and looking gorgeous.
  • When done, leave the casserole dish out of the oven for a few minutes to enhance the atmosphere of anticipation.  It also means that people won’t be able to sue you for burning their mouths!
  • Serve with a salad garnish, or more wilted spinach.  I’m with the spinach, meself.
  • Scoff, but don’t eat the stem.

Of course, if you’re NOT a veggie, well, bung a bit o’bacon or mince in as well!

 

 

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