The time is approaching, (at least in the Hudson Valley Area) for down to earth heart warming COMFORT FOODS.
During the cooler months, the foods we eat are based on hot and savory dishes such as vegetables, beans and who could ever forget pasta and rice. These wonderful fuels last a long time and keep us warm and fat ( one of the disadvantages of starch and carbohydrate greens and beans) what the heck, you have to eat… right???? so you may as well enjoy it....
2 LARGE ONIONS
4 CHILLI PEPPERS OR EQUAL
1 GREEN AND 1 RED SWEET PEPPER
2 EARS OF FRESH CORN
1 LBS. OF FRESH PASTA OR EQUAL
This absolutely fiery dish can be served on a bed of pasta, rice, Quinoa grain, couscous or any other appropriate carbohydrate. The trick to cooking vegetables without them becoming one pile of goo, is to keep cooking times to a minimum, First, start off with heating the olive oil to a very hot temperature, when you throw in the onions they should start immediately cooking, simmer the onions and garlic (in my case..this is optional, as I never use garlic because it kills my stomach) but to each its own….next add the peppers, zucchini and squash and let simmer for about five minutes. Next add the plum tomatoes in along with the fresh corn and the typical seasonings…salt, fresh ground pepper, parsley and basil.
let this cook down for about 15 minutes on a reduced temperature… medium to low simmer but first make sure all vegetables have slightly browned before reducing the heat.
With a meal like this, timing is everything, make sure the pasta is ready at the exact moment that your vegetables are otherwise they will over cook and ruin the evening…. YOU probably do not have any thing else in the house to cook for dinner and of course the snow is coming down very hard and you need new tires on your Range Rover, so you do not want to drive down the mountain for ingredients that you will most likely will mess up again anyway, as you have… this simple, yet elegant meal…
BE CAREFUL and everything will be fantastic
2 CUPS OF BASAMATI RICE
4 LARGE PEPPERS..RED, GREEN, OR YELLOW ARE ALL FINE
1 LARGE ONION
4 FRESH PLUM TOMATOES (cut and quartered)
1 CAN OF ITALIAN TOMATO PASTE
1 CAN OF ITALIAN PEELED TOMATOES (TRY TO GET ORGANIC TOMATOES FROM ITALY)
FRESH PARSLEY AND BASIL, SALT AND PEPPER TO TASTE
1 CUP OF PEAS
1/4 LBS. LOCATELLI GRATING CHEESE
To prepare this meal, it will take three separate operations but all can be done simultaneously, that is of course if you have an extra pair of hand available…
First start out by preparing the red sauce, take a large saucepan and add your olive oil,(a good rule is to completely coat the bottom of the pan with oil to about at least an 1/8″ high and let this get very hot). Add the onions to this hot oil and let them sweat until lightly browned (as in the fiery pepper dish, you have the option of adding 1 clove of garlic..you know how I feel about this but…. whatever) then throw in the plum tomatoes stirring frequently as not to burn the tomatoes, when this starts to get thick add in the tomato paste and let this cook for about two minutes, at this point be careful as this will quickly burn if you do not stay on it. Now add the can of crushed tomatoes and one full can of water, along with the salt, pepper, parsley basil and bay leaves. Lower the heat to a low simmer and stir occasional as needed. Cook this sauce for approximately 1 hour.
Meanwhile, back at the ranch, cut off the tops of the bell peppers and remove all seeds and wash throughly. I like to par boil the peppers, this will cut down on time in the oven and make for a very tender skin but it is perfectly fine to stuff them raw and cook fully in the oven. (this usually produces a little firmer shell but completely acceptable) bring a large pot of water to a boil and put in the peppers for about 5 minutes or until they start to get softened. Remove in wash in cold water to stop the cooking process. Put the peppers in a glass oven proof pan and set aside for later use.
Take three cups of cold water to a boil, add 1 teaspoon of butter and salt to taste. when the water boils add in the rice and reduce the heat to low simmer and cover for about twenty minutes. try not to remove the cover too frequently and especially do not stir the rice. (a good practice is to throughly wash the rice prior to cooking).
In a bowl add the rice peas, grated Locatelli, salt pepper a little of the red sauce, mix throughly and fill the peppers with this mixture. I usually do not over load the rice mixture with too much sauce as I add it on top of and around the peppers after filling them. An option would be to add fresh mozzarella on top of the peppers.
Cook for about 40-50 minutes @ 450* degrees or until tender and liquid is boiling around them.