Couscous and Asparagus Stuffed Peppers

Golden raisins, aromatic spices, couscous, and asparagus cooked with beef blanketed in a tender roasted pepper – pure culinary delight. And the best part? They are already portioned and easy to serve.
By Jane Poretsky

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Imagine opening the lid of a vividly painted tagine and unleashing the hot, scented steam that has been trapped for hours under the ceramic top hat. Cumin, ginger, garlic all permeate the air and it just smells like the best rendition of the Middle East you’ve seen to date. Buttery, toasted couscous and plump golden raisins are a wonderful accompaniment to your Morrocan feast. Are you ready to dig in?

Now imagine all that, blanketed in a tender roasted pepper. Perfectly portioned, easy to serve, fantastic flavor, and no cleanup!

Growing up, the only kind of stuffed peppers I ate were the Eastern European kind. Similar to golubtsy, which are stuffed cabbage rolls, peppers were loaded up with beef and rice, and boiled in a red tomato sauce, then served with {drum roll please} sour cream. Aren’t you surprised? They were tasty, but I yearned for the filling to have more complexity and depth. I added some classically Morrocan spices to organic ground beef and cooked the filling on the stove top with sweet onions and garlic. I ate so many spoonfuls of this delightful meat mixture after the soft couscous, white wine and sunny raisins were added that I wasn’t even hungry when the peppers had baked. I added little nuggets of chopped asparagus for freshness, and because green flecks look so pretty. I didn’t use a store-bought marinara sauce, because as you may have heard me say in the past, it is simply overpowering. The focus of this dish should be the well spiced beef filling, not the Prego tomato sauce. To create somewhat of a sauce, I added freshly chopped tomatoes (I had kumatoes, but same difference), white wine, and low-sodium beef broth.

Couscous and Asparagus Stuffed Peppers
 
Golden raisins, aromatic spices, couscous, and asparagus cooked with beef are all blanketed together in a tender roasted pepper - pure culinary delight. Serve immediately; a nice dill yogurt sauce would go very well with this
Author:
Recipe Type: Main
Cuisine: Middle Eastern
Ingredients
  • 1¼ lbs of ground beef, at room temperature (organic 85%lean 15% fat is what I used)
  • 1 egg
  • ½ vidalia onion, grated or minced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tbs sesame seeds
  • 1 tsp each: ground cumin, coriander, ginger, salt
  • ½ tsp each: ground cinnamon, turmeric
  • 1 cup low-sodium beef broth
  • 1 cup of plain couscous (I used NearEast brand)
  • 1 cup of white wine
  • 8 small or 4 medium-size tomatoes, roughly chopped
  • 5 stalks of asparagus, trimmed* and chopped into bite-size pieces
  • ⅓ cup of golden raisins
  • 10 medium-size bell peppers, assorted colors, halved, pith + seeds removed
  • extra-virgin olive oil
Instructions
  1. In a large bowl, mix together beef, egg + spices.
  2. Start off by cooking onions with 1 tbs olive oil in a very large, deep skillet. Turn the oven onto 400 degrees. Once the onions are soft and golden, add garlic and sesame seeds. Toast for 2 minutes.
  3. Add beef and turn the heat up to a medium high. Let the beef cook until it is no longer pink, breaking up into chunks constantly.
  4. Add tomatoes and let them soften for 5 minutes. Then add couscous, wine, beef broth and cover the pan. Lower the heat to a medium low and cook until the couscous has absorbed most of the liquid. If it is too wet after about 8 minutes, add 2 more tbs of couscous (but it should not be).
  5. Finally, add raisins and asparagus and mix everything. Taste to make sure there is enough salt.
  6. Brush 1 or 2 baking dishes with olive oil. Stuff peppers with meat filling and bake {covered} for 45 minutes. Finish by baking {uncovered} for 15 more minutes.

 

Jane Poretsky

Jane Poretsky is a recent NYU grad & native New Yorker. She dreams of having her own cooking show one day; one where she humors you, and shows you how to make her favorite rustic dishes. From French pâté studded with pistachios, to silky spaghetti glossed in a yolky cream sauce, no recipe stone will be left unturned.

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