Sep 172010
Sometimes you make an awesome meal, let’s say for example Spinach and Feta Stuffed Chicken with grilled veggies, and you’re so completely satisfied with the outcome, but there’s still something wrong.  You suddenly realize that you have half a block of feta, a zucchini, a yellow squash and a few red peppers in your fridge because you failed at estimating what you needed for the recipe.  Yep, that’s where I was.  And I HATE to waste food.  Maybe it’s my Jewish half, or maybe it’s the fact that I love  food so much that I can’t stand to watch good ingredients die a slow lonely death in the fridge.  Either way, I made a new meal out of only things I already had and I must say this remix might have been even better than the original.

It wasn’t too difficult to prepare either.  You put the empty peppers in the oven for about 15 minutes so they begin to soften.  While they’re cooking, you saute your vegetables, add the herbs, and mix with chickpeas, fresh tomatoes, feta, and tomato paste.  You also cook the couscous, which, I now realize, is about the easiest thing to make.  You bring some chicken broth to a boil, throw in the couscous, cover, and take it off the heat.  And it cousifies just like that.

Now that you have your cous cous mixture, you stuff your peppers.  My peppers were small-ish so I had lots of filling left over which I happily ate the next night.  Depending on the size of your peppers, you can probably make between 4 and 6.  Put the peppers back in the oven to finish cooking.  And hope that you don’t have a fainter like my little friend in the back right here.  Finally got him to stay on his feet propped up against the side of the pan. 

This dish can be served as a side dish or a meatless main.  It’s filling and tasty and maybe even better reheated.  Plus, I rescued a lot of good food that night…no ingredient left behind.  

Nutritional Highlights: Couscous is a good source of protein, fiber, niacin, selenium, and B vitamins.  I used whole wheat couscous adding even more fiber and protein.  This mixture is heavy on the vegetables and chickpeas so it thins out the carbiness (good carbiness, mind you) of the couscous.  Bell peppers are incredible high in vitamin C, vitamin A, and antioxidants.  This is a really complete meatless meal or side option that will keep you satisfied and give you tons of energy.  This will definitely be something I make again and again.

Couscous and Feta-Stuffed Peppers
Adapted from 

Vegetable-oil cooking spray
1 1/4 cups fat-free chicken or vegetable broth
2/3 cup couscous
4 extra-large or 5 large bell peppers, mixed colors (or 6 smallish bell peppers)
2 tsp olive oil
1/2 cup chopped onion
6 oz zucchini, quartered lengthwise then sliced across thinly
6 oz yellow squash, quartered lengthwise then sliced across thinly
1/2 tsp fennel seeds (I left this out because I don’t like nor have fennel seed…to each her own)
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup cherry tomatoes, cut in half
15 oz canned chickpeas, drained and rinsed
4 oz crumbled feta cheese (about 1 cup)
3 tablespoons tomato paste (I only used 2 because 3 seemed like a lot for a strong flavor like tomato paste)

Preheat oven to 350°F. Coat a small baking dish with cooking spray. Bring the broth to a boil in a saucepan, add the couscous, cover the pan and remove it from the heat. Cut the stems and top half inch off the bell peppers and scoop out the seeds and membranes. Place peppers upright in a baking dish and roast them for 15 minutes or so, until they soften, then remove them from the oven until the filling is ready. Heat oil in a nonstick skillet. Add onion, zucchini, yellow squash, fennel seeds, oregano, and salt. Cook, stirring frequently, for 5 minutes or until vegetables are softened. Remove from heat and stir in the tomatoes, chickpeas and tomato paste. Using a fork, scrape the couscous into the skillet and toss with the vegetables. Stir in the crumbled feta. Fill peppers with the couscous mixture. Bake 15 minutes. Serve immediately.

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