Stuffed Peppers with Lamb, Orzo & Haloumi
Makes 12 stuffed peppers
Prep time: 15 min Cook time: 55 min
- 1 tablespoon canola oil (or another neutral-flavor, high-heat oil, such as grapeseed oil or peanut oil)
- 460gm minced lamb
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt, divided, plus more to taste
- 6 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 medium yellow onion, diced
- 1 (14.5-oz) can diced tomatoes
- 250g orzo
- 1 1/4 teaspoon chili powder
- 1 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
- 3/4 teaspoons ground allspice
- 6 bell peppers (some combination of red, orange, and yellow—they’re sweeter in flavor than green)
- Extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 cup roughly chopped parsley leaves, loosely packed
- 1 cup roughly chopped dill fronds, loosely packed
- 1 cup roughly chopped mint leaves, loosely packed
- 230gm halloumi cheese, cut into ½ inch dice (fresh mozzarella also works in a pinch)
- 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
- Add the canola oil to a large skillet and set over high heat. When wisps of smoke just begin to appear, add the ground lamb and season with ½ teaspoon of salt. Let the lamb cook undisturbed for about 30 seconds to develop some caramelisation, then use a wooden spoon to break the meat into small crumbles. After 2 to 4 minutes, when the lamb is nicely caramelised, add the onion and another ¼ teaspoon of salt. Cook the onion and lamb together for 3 to 5 minutes, stirring regularly. When the onion begins to soften and caramelise, add the garlic, and cook for an additional 1 to 2 minutes, until the garlic is nicely fragrant. Add the tomatoes (including their juice) and another ¼ teaspoon of salt, then turn off the heat. Use the wooden spoon to scrape up the bits at the bottom of the skillet (the tomato juice will help deglaze the skillet).
- Set a large pot of water over high heat. When the water is boiling, generously season with salt (figure about 1 tablespoon of salt per quart of water). Cook the orzo for 1 minute less than the box recommends. When the orzo is almost done, add ⅓ cup pasta water to the skillet with the lamb. When the orzo is done cooking, strain it and return it to the pot that it was just cooking in. Add the tomato mixture from the skillet to the pot with the orzo. Add the chilli powder, cumin, and allspice. Mix thoroughly to combine. At this point, you can store this mixture in the refrigerator for up to 3 days, then proceed to the next step.
- Heat the oven to 450°F. Cut the peppers in half lengthwise. Use a paring knife or spoon to remove all seeds, and do your best to trim away any white pith inside the pepper. Arrange the peppers cut-side up on a rimmed sheet pan lined with parchment. Drizzle the peppers with olive oil and season each one with a pinch of salt. Roast for 25 minutes.
- While those are in the oven, roughly chop the parsley, dill, and mint, and add these to the lamb-orzo mixture, along with the halloumi and lemon juice. Stir to combine, then taste and adjust with more salt as necessary.
- Remove the peppers from the oven after they have roasted for 25 minutes. Evenly divide the lamb-orzo mixture between the roasted peppers and drizzle a little olive oil on top of each (if you have any extra filling, save and eat it later as a snack.) Return the sheet pan to the oven, and cook for 15 minutes, until the peppers look slightly charred and the cheese is melty.
From Food52 (www.food52.com)