The Ardent Epicure

An Ode to the Pleasures of Food

Ricotta Stuffed Sweet Peppers 
with Ratatuille Sauce

If you like vegetable lasagna, you will enjoy this dish. Basically we are doing a 
vegetable lasagna without the pasta. We have ricotta along with a quattro
 formaggio blend (Parmesan, Asiago, Fontina and Provolone). With crimini
mushrooms,  fresh spinich and fresh basil. All of these goodies packed into
our capsicum or bell peppers. These lovely bells do indeed belong
to the "Pepper" family, yet they rate a zero on the heat scale. Oh but
 they are sweet and we can stuff them to our hearts desire.

For this recipe I used  ratatuille nicoise, but you can use a simple marinara
instead. If you are not familiar with  ratatuille nicoise, it is a sauce of tomatoes
and vegetables.Generally bell pepper,zucchini and eggplant with herbs
 and spices. You can purchase this sauce already prepared or make your own.
As we are using a relatively small amount of sauce here that I already had available,
I will share a recipe with you at a later date when we will be using a more
 significant amount :)

What you will need:

For the Peppers
6-8 large bell peppers
(red, yellow and orange)
2 cups fresh baby spinach
6-8 large basil leaves
2 cups ratatuille nicoise
or marinara sauce

For the mushrooms
1-2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons white wine or water
12 ounces crimini mushrooms, thickly sliced
1 shallot, finely chopped
2-3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon pepper, ground
A pinch or two of sea salt

For the riccota mixture
24 ounces riccotta
24 ounces quattro formaggio, shredded
(reserve a tablespoon for each pepper)
2 large eggs
2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
1 teaspoon nutmeg, ground
1 teaspoon cinnamon, ground
1/2 teaspoon cardamom
1/2 teaspoon cumin

Let's get cooking:
Add oil to a pre-heated medium sauté pan. Add shallot and garlic, cooking
until just opaque. Add mushrooms, wine and spices tossing until incorporated.
Cover and simmer until mushrooms are tender, stirring  occasionally.
About 10 minutes or so depending on the thickness of your mushrooms.

Place all ingredients for your ricotta mixture except for reserved amount of cheese
in a medium sized mixing bowl. Blend until mixture is fully incorporated.

Prepare your peppers by removing the tops then removing the
ribs and seeds from the inside. After washing your peppers pat the
inside dry with a clean cloth or paper towel.

Get this look:
Once you have everything prepared, we are going to layer our ingredients
individually like you would if preparing a lasagna. Starting with our first layer
of the ricotta mixture, then a layer of mushrooms. Now more of the ricotta mixture
followed by a spinach layer. Again another layer of ricotta and finally our basil.

Place your sauce in a large baking dish and add your peppers, spooning
a bit of sauce over each. Loosely cover your dish with foil and bake in a pre-heated
oven at 350 degrees F for about 40 minutes or until peppers are soft. You should
baste your peppers one to two times with sauce from the pan. Once your peppers
are tender sprinkle with a bit of additional cheese and return to oven uncovered
until cheese has melted.

To serve, place each pepper on an individual dish adding a bit of remaining
sauce to each. Additional shaved parmesan or other hard aged cheese can
be added along with a slice of crusty bread.

Note: This could also be served as a side dish by cutting each pepper in half.
Serves 6-8

Alisha ~ Magic of Spice

This is going over to Your Best Recipe for January 2011

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