Greek Stuffed Peppers

I am extremely fortunate to have been able to spend parts of every summer of my life on the picturesque St. Lawrence River in southern Quebec. My Grandparents have had a cottage in this Canadian paradise since my mother was a young child.  It truly is my home away from home, and it’s the place where many of my favorite memories of food come from. My most vivid recollections are picking berries with my cousins and grandma, shucking dozens of ears of corn for just one meal (our family has an obsession), watching/smelling my aunts prepare variations of rhubarb pie, and enjoying fresh cucumber and tomato salad for lunch on the waterfront with my grandmother – something she did almost every single day in the summer when I was young.

Like my grandmother, cucumber and tomato salad has become one of my favorite summertime go-to snacks, lunches, or sides. I had a hankering for this fresh salad for dinner the other night, and I subsequently planned the entire meal around these two vegetables. Cucumbers and tomatoes exist in many different types of cuisine, but they are unquestionably key ingredients in Greek food – especially once a little feta is thrown into the mix. With this in mind, I prepared Greek stuffed peppers to accompany a fresh cucumber, tomato, and feta salad and sausage stuffed with spinach and feta.

The Greek stuffed peppers were distinctively delicious. The combination of the feta and goat cheese really gave them a rich, unique taste – but they weren’t too heavy and the taste wasn’t overpowering. In fact, if I had to change anything for the next time I made these, I would probably add less couscous to the stuffing so I could taste more of the vegetables and cheese. The Greek stuffed peppers were very simple to prepare and they are one of those versatile foods that can be enjoyed as an appetizer, side dish, or entrée (just add in some protein).

Greek Stuffed Peppers

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Ingredients:
– 2 large green bell peppers

– 2 cloves of garlic, minced

– 1 medium white onion, chopped

– 1 yellow squash, quartered and chopped

– 1 cup (approximated) cherry tomatoes, chopped

– 3 – 4 cups of spinach, lightly chopped (I did three greedy handfuls)

– 1/2 tsp fresh red pepper flakes

– 2 (approximated) tbsp goat cheese crumbles

– 1.5 (approximated) tbsp feta cheese crumbles (crumbles are so much easier)

– A mixture of feta and goat cheese crumbles to top ~ 3 tbsp (the more cheese, the creamier)

– 2.5 – 3 cups of cooked couscous

– 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

– Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

– Cut the tops off the bell peppers, clean out the insides, and set aside. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

– In a large sauté pan, cook the garlic and onions in olive oil and salt and pepper for about five minutes on medium to high heat, or until the garlic is golden and the onions are soft.

– Add to the pan the yellow squash, chopped cherry tomatoes, and fresh red pepper flakes and stir. Let cook for about 5 minutes, or until the squash and tomatoes are tender.

– Stir in the spinach and let cook down. It will look like a lot, but give the greens time to cook. If there is a lot of water in the pan, steam most of it out because you don’t want the contents having too much liquid. The spinach will take about five minutes to cook, so make sure to stir every now and then.

– Once the spinach is cooked, stir in the feta and goat cheese crumbles. It doesn’t look like a lot of cheese, but stir it around and you will quickly see the consistency change.

– Add the couscous until everything in the pan is well incorporated.

– Place the bell peppers on a baking dish and evenly fill them with the stuffing ingredients.

-DO NOT top the peppers with the rest of the cheese crumbles until the very end of the cooking time. Place the stuffed peppers in the oven and bake for approximately 25 minutes. About five minutes before the timer goes off, add the remaining cheese crumbles to the top of the peppers and put back in the oven to finish cooking. Add salt and pepper to taste and let cool before digging in.

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