When I pick a sprig of basil from my garden, I usually don’t think much about throwing a leaf or two into the compost bin if I don’t use it. After all, the basil plant benefits from a consistent snipping to increase its production. But when I’m visiting my friend Brett at his farm, Even’ Star, he berates me. Brett uses every last bit of food.
I went down to the farm this week for my annual tomato canning extravaganza. When I arrived, Brett had set aside tomatoes for me to use – cases and cases of #2 tomatoes. These are the tomatoes that have blemishes – slightly bruised, bug-holed and perhaps a little moldy. If you cut away the bad parts (and give those to the chickens), the tomatoes are perfectly wonderful – just as sweet and flavorful as the more perfect looking #1s. Because the tomatoes are cooked down and pureed into sauce, their initial appearance becomes irrelevant. He tries to sell these tomatoes to his customers at deep discounts, but he still has cases more which are destined as chicken food if I don’t use them.
The same philosophy of utilizing every scrap holds true at meal time too… even though the walk-in cooler is bursting with fresh produce to be sold at the farmers markets and through his CSA, we still use the #2 veggies to cook our own meals and meals for the work crew. In addition to using the #2’s, I try to use up all the bits and pieces of leftovers.
After canning my stewed tomatoes, I still had a little sauce left. I also had some leftover corn from the chowder. I foraged in the refrigerator and found rice, Monterey jack cheese and a Ziploc bag of blemished Cubanelle peppers… all the fixings for stuffed peppers!
Because cubanelle peppers are more tubular than the standard-stuffing bell pepper, they require a roasting before stuffing. This softens the flesh and makes stuffing much easier. Their smaller size also means the stuffing will heat/cook more quickly, so a pre-roasting of the peppers, means the final roasting will only take 10 – 15 minutes, tops.
Roasted Stuffed Cubanelles
1 tbs. plain oil
1/2 cup cooked rice
1 cup raw or cooked corn kernels
½ cup grated Monterey jack cheese
Optional additions and flavorings: jalapenos, basil, scallions, black beans, leftover cooked chicken
Salt and pepper to taste
1. Toss peppers in oil and lay out in a single layer on a cookie sheet. Roast peppers at 400F for 15 minutes or until the skin starts to blister and turn light brown. Take them out of the oven and let cool.
2. Meanwhile, mix together the rice, corn, cheese and any other desired flavorings. Check seasoning for salt and pepper.
3. Cut the tops off the peppers and scoop out the seeds. Stuff the filling into the cavity of the pepper.
4. Return the stuffed peppers to the oven and bake for 10 – 15 minutes. 5. Serve with tomato sauce.