My mother (who is an amazing cook) can always make ‘something out of nothing’ and I’m hoping that this recipe will always remind me of that.
Last week, when my mum came to stay, I was completely on the back foot. I hadn’t managed a big shop and the fridge was uncharacteristically empty. We found a few red and green (bell) peppers, two courgettes, a plum tomato, a stick of celery, a carrot and a cup of leftover peas. There was also a chunk of Parmesan cheese. The obvious solution would have been to make a pan of soup, but I fancied something a bit more substantial than that. “We”ll stuff the veg!” declared my mum, and after a quick whizz of my cupboards she found some vegetable stock, a tin of tomatoes and one of those two-minute pouches of rice. Yes, I have those in my cupboard.
Within minutes the kitchen was filled with the aroma of a bubbling ‘quick’ risotto and after a sprinkle of some sea salt and fresh pepper, the vegetables began baking in the oven.
The pre-cooked rice was really the key to the speediness in this recipe – you can shave off a good ten minutes. If you had some leftover risotto, it would be quicker, still and you could just use that to stuff the vegetables with instead. You can also buy a quicker cook ‘pronto’ version of risotto now in pouches, too, though I haven’t tried those. You can even make it with ‘easy cook rice’ – you’ll just need to simmer it a little longer. The rice should be ‘almost’ cooked before you stuff your vegetables with it.
Once you know how to stuff veggies (always pre-bake them for at least ten minutes before stuffing just to get them going a bit) you can make all kinds of fillings. You can even stuff them with a bolognese ragu like this one.
And look what you end up with – Risotto-Stuffed Vegetables – fit for a King or Queen.
We serve ours with some tiny cubed courgettes and a really good sprinkling of Parmesan cheese.
My mother might just be the cleverest cook in the world. She’s always an inspiration to me.
I hope you’re enjoying the (slightly blustery) autumnal weather! If you are not, make these instead, then stay inside and keep warm and happy.
- Olive oil
- Sea Salt and pepper
- 2-3 bell peppers
- 1 large (beef or plum) tomato
- 2 courgettes/zucchini
- 1 sweet onion, chopped
- 1 stick celery, finely chopped
- 1 carrot, peeled and chopped into cubes
- A cupful of frozen peas
- 1 packet quick-to-cook rice, or 250g leftover cooked rice
- 250ml/one cup vegetable stock
- 1 tin of chopped tomatoes
- To garnish - half a courgette and some Parmesan cheese
- Preheat the oven 200C/180C fan/gas 6.
- Chop the tops off the peppers and scoop out any seeds. Do the same with the tomato. Cut one of the courgettes in half and using a teaspoon, scoop out the centre. Dice the second courgette for the garnish, keep to one side. Place the prepared veggies in a foil lined baking tin, drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper and bake for ten minutes. Alongside those, spread the diced courgette onto a flat baking tray, drizzle with olive oil and bake for ten minutes, too.
- In the meantime, drizzle some olive oil into a frying pan. Fry the onions for three to four minutes, then add in the celery and carrot and cook for a further few minutes.Throw in the peas and the rice, pour in the stock and add the tinned tomatoes. Season with salt and pepper and simmer for around five minutes. If you are not using pre-cooked rice, you''ll need to cover and simmer the rice until it is cooked - around ten minutes.
- Take the vegetables out of the oven and carefully fill the peppers, tomato and courgettes with the rice mixture. Put the stuffed vegetables back in the oven and bake for a further ten minutes.The vegetables should be soft, take them out and set to one side.
- Serve the baked, stuffed veggies with some of the courgette cubes and a grating of fresh Parmesan cheese.
Love you, Mama!
Ooh, if you wanted to stuff your veggies with a traditional risotto – follow my tips over on JamieOliver.com here.