Wednesday, 27 March 2013

Moroccan Vegetable Stuffed Peppers GF SCD

These vibrant peppers are stuffed with a selection of vegetables and beans which are flavoured with a delicious Moroccan spice blend. As you can see, it's a very fiery red dish, rich in carotenoids and vitamins and is perfect to eat as a main or as a side dish or starter. It's easy to adapt for the Specific Carbohydrate Diet by altering the vegetables used. I've made it with butternut squash, with sweet potato and with both. I've also made it with and without the beans added so I've made them an optional extra. This recipe makes enough for 4 medium sized peppers.

The flavour of Moroccan Cooking was influenced directly by the Arab invasion of the 7th Century. New spices were introduced at the time including cinnamon, ginger, saffron, cumin and caraway and these new spices enabled the creation of the distinctive sweet and sour flavoured Moroccan dishes. Cumin is particularly important in Moroccan cooking and it is also found in pots on the tables along with salt and pepper.

I use my own blend of spices in this recipe and have given an option of 1 to 2 teaspoons, so make sure you taste the mixture just in case you want to make it spicier.

When choosing peppers, flip the peppers over and pick the ones with four bumps - did you know these are the female ones?  They are much easier to stand up in a dish.

Moroccan Stuffed Peppers GF SCD

4 bell peppers
1 small/medium butternut squash (SCD) or
1 medium sweet potato & ½ small/medium butternut squash
1 medium red onion
2 tomatoes
2 cloves garlic
½ red chilli
1 400g tin/carton organic chopped tomatoes
125 g cooked black beans - optional
125 g cooked chick peas or haricot beans (SCD) - optional
3 soft dried apricots
2 - 3 heaped tblsps sultanas
1 - 2 heaped tsps Moroccan spice mix or harissa 
juice of ½ lemon 
1 tsp honey or alternative vegan sweetener
extra virgin olive oil 
sea salt & freshly ground black pepper

There are two ways of preparing these stuffed peppers. Firstly, if you're preparing in advance, you can make the filling then stuff into the uncooked peppers and roast for about half an hour. The other way, which I have demonstrated here, is to roast the peppers at the same time as preparing the filling so you can stuff them and serve immediately. This saves time.

Set the oven to 200° C (fan/convection oven). Wash and dry the peppers and slice the top off.

Remove all the seeds.

Brush with oil and place upside down on a lightly greased baking tray.

Roast for about 40 minutes until soft but still holding their shape. See how the female pepper has stayed in shape.

Meanwhile, prepare the vegetables. Finely dice the onion.

Dice the sweet potato

and/or the butternut squash.

Crush the garlic and finely chop the apricots.

Finely chop the red chilli.

Heat about a tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil in a deep frying pan, add the onion and fry gently until soft. Add the spice.

Add the garlic, chilli, prepared sweet potato and/or the butternut squash and fry gently for another 10 to 15 minutes until the vegetables soften.

Pour over the tinned tomatoes - or you could use fresh puréed tomatoes. Chop the two tomatoes into small chunks and add to the pan with the sultanas and chopped apricots.

Add the juice of half a lemon, a teaspoon of honey or other alternative sweetener, sea salt and plenty of freshly ground black pepper. If you are adding the cooked beans, add them at this stage. Cover and cook until the vegetables are soft, adding a little water if the pan becomes too dry. This is when you can taste the vegetables to see if you need to add more spice. If the peppers are cooked before the vegetables, keep them warm in a low oven.

Stuff the cooked peppers with the vegetables and serve straight away.