Sometime last winter, I made stuffed peppers for the first time. I was amazed (and horrified) that I'd never made them before. They were just so delicious. The original recipe I made was entirely vegan with the option to be vegetarian, and included fresh dill, so it was very fresh and summery tasting. This week, I thought I'd modify the recipe to be "Mediterranean-Style" including cheese, because hey--I'm a Wisconsin girl. I love me some cheese. By no means do you need to put cheese in this recipe (if, for example, you don't like cheese, or you want to feed your favorite vegan), but it certainly doesn't hurt!
Med-Style Stuffed Peppers (adapted from Carol Gelles' cookbook, "1,000 Vegetarian Recipes.")
-2 large bell peppers, halved and seeded (or 4 small peppers)
-1 1/2 c. fresh tomato, chopped
-1/2 c. onion, finely chopped
-2-3 cloves of garlic, minced
-3/4-1 c. uncooked barley (**NOTE: I only had about 3/4 cup, which worked fine--I even had a little extra left over)
-1/4 c. fresh oregano, chopped
-1/4 c. fresh parsley, chopped
-1/4 c. sliced black olives (**NOTE: I diced mine up a little finer, since they came sliced in the can)
-1/4-1/3 c. goat cheese or feta crumbles (**NOTE: I used goat cheese, because it was on sale...it was creamy and nicely contrasting flavor-wise. I'd originally intended to use feta, but it wasn't on sale, so no dice).
-1/2 tsp. salt
-1/4 tsp. pepper (I was a little more generous with this measurement)
1. Preheat oven to 375.
2. Bring a pot of water to boil. Put in the peppers and cook for 4 minutes to blanch. Drain and set aside.
3. While the peppers are cooking, prepare the barley according to package directions. I think that "Quick Cooking Barley" works best for this recipe's timeline (about 10-12 minutes cooking time). Set aside when done cooking.
4. In a large skillet, drizzled with olive oil (about 1-2 tablespoons), saute onions and garlic over medium-high heat. Cook about 2 minutes, until softened. Add tomatoes, parsley, oregano and olives and cook until tomatoes are softened, 2-3 minutes. Turn off the heat, and mix in the barley, goat cheese, salt, and pepper.
5. Divide the mixture in pan into fourths. On a pan coated with cooking spray or oil, place the stuffed pepper halves empty-side up. Fill each with 1/4 of the mixture.
6. Bake for 20 minutes, serve immediately.