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Baked peppers stuffed with pearl couscous

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

I could have simply stir-fried a chopped red pepper, tossed it with some cooked pearl couscous, added herbs and nuts and had a very nice dinner. 
But while flipping through the pages of Nigel Slater's Tender Volume 1, I came upon his recipe for "stuffed peppers for an autumn day". Well, I had no autumn day, but most of the ingredients were in the fridge or cupboard, so it was baked stuffed peppers with pearl couscous for me.
Pearl couscous (also known variously in the Middle East as mograbieh, Israeli couscous or fregola) is not the easiest ingredient to get here, but with more Middle Easterners coming to live here, grocers have started to have a small stock of it. It's still very expensive for the average Malaysian income though, but I like the texture and pleasant chewiness, and I don't begrudge a single sen I spend on good food. It can, of course, be replaced with a grain such as rice or bulgur, in this dish.
Ready for the oven: Bake the peppers in the same pan the stuffing was cooked in
Stuffed Peppers with Pearl Couscous
Serves 1. Adapted from Nigel Slater's Tender Vol. I

1 large red pepper (capsicum)
¼ cup pearl couscous*
Olive oil
2 stalks spring onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, diced
Large pinch of paprika
2 tbsp sunflower seeds, toasted
½ a lemon, zested
1 small handful fresh mint, chopped
Salt and black pepper to taste

Heat the oven to 180°C.
Half the red pepper through the stalk, and remove the core.
Cook the pearl couscous in plenty of salted water (like pasta) until tender. Drain and toss lightly in olive oil.
Over moderate heat, soften the white part of the spring onion in a little oil. Add the garlic, paprika and lemon zest.
When fragrant, add the cooked pearl couscous and toss together. Take off the heat and add the sunflower seeds and mint. Add a squeeze of lemon juice to taste, and season with salt and pepper.
Scoop the stuffing into the pepper halves, place them in an oven-proof dish (or use the same pan in which you cooked the stuffing) and drizzle with olive oil. Cover the pan loosely with foil and bake for 35-45 minutes until sizzling.
Serve, drizzled with the pan juices. Goes nicely with Greek yoghurt.
* Replace with ordinary couscous or a grain like rice or bulgur.

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