Between fried turkey on Thanksgiving and the many, many sugary holiday treats that lay ahead, my body is craving light, healthy dinners these days. Enter orzo stuffed peppers. The roasting of the peppers that happens in the oven makes these appropriately filing and comforting for this time of year, yet not heavy. And with as much spinach and tomatoes you want to add, these are certainly not unhealthy.
Served aside a crispy salad these make a delicious, healthy dinner that you can feel good about. They are also wonderful as leftovers. I love these as they are but also wouldn’t mind some breadcrumbs on top for crunch, or twice as much spinach and less orzo in the mix. And of course, you could add any additional veggies you can think up. Corn and beans, along with some cilantro instead of basil and sharp cheddar in place of Mozzarella could add a delicious Mexican twist. In fact, I think I may try that combo next time I make these. Can you think of any other delicious combos?
Orzo Stuffed Peppers
Yield: 6 peppers
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 onion, chopped
2 cups fresh spinach leaves, roughly chopped*
1 (28 ounce can) can diced tomatoes
4 cups vegetable broth
1 1/2 cups orzo
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese, plus more for sprinkling on top
1/3 cup freshly grated Pecorino Romano cheese, plus more for sprinkling on top
Salt and pepper, to taste
1/4 cup fresh basil leaves, finely chopped
6 sweet bell peppers (red, yellow, or orange)
1. Preheat the oven to 400° F.
2. In a medium skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until tender, about 3 minutes. Stir in the spinach. Cook until spinach is wilted. Remove from heat.
u3. Pour the tomatoes into a large bowl and stir in the spinach mixture. Set aside.
4. Meanwhile, bring the vegetable broth to a boil in a medium saucepan. Add the orzo and cook for five minutes. The orzo should be only partially cooked because it will finish cooking in the oven. Strain the orzo pasta, making sure you save the vegetable broth.
5. Stir the orzo into the tomato spinach mixture. Stir in the cheese and season with salt and pepper. Stir in the basil.
6. Pour the vegetable broth into a 3-quart baking dish. Slice the tops off the peppers and remove all ribs and seeds. Cut a very thin slice from the base so the peppers will stand up in the baking dish.
7. Place the peppers in the baking dish and spoon the orzo mixture into the peppers. Cover the dish with foil and bake for 40- 45 minutes. Remove the foil, sprinkle the top of each pepper with additional cheese and continue baking until the cheese is golden, about 15 minutes.
8. Remove from the oven and let peppers sit for five minutes. Serve warm.
Source: Two Peas and Their Pod
*Spinach has extraordinary shrinkage properties so I would guess you could add an additional 2 cups of spinach and all the filling would still fit in the peppers. You could decrease the orzo to 1 1/4 cups if you do this to make more room, though. Let me know if you have other ideas of things to change!