Friday, 11 January 2013

Chimichurri Paneer Stuffed Peppers

Firstly, Happy New Year! It always feels a bit weird saying that now we're almost two weeks into the new year, but there you go (and I  know I will be saying it a lot more come Monday when I return to uni!). For most people the new year means new beginnings... And how could I not mention those impossible new year's resolutions! Eat more healthily/ Do more exercise/ Stop swearing/ Be more organised/ Blah blah blah. I stopped making new years resolutions a few years ago, primarily because they were impossible to keep! But I do still like to make changes and new resolutions in my life when I feel like my life is getting too monotonous or heading in the wrong direction.  Sometimes at a low point during the year, sometimes when I'm sat in front of the TV thinking I could definitely be doing something more productive than this. Never anything as ambitious as "eat more healthily", nor as vague.  Something small, which over time can make a significant difference in my life or may just fizzle out having done its work leading me from the woes of monotony. 
It was a small change that led to this blog... and who knows where this will take me!

So in the spirit of ignoring those new year diet fads and January detox salad pickers, here's a recipe inspired by some new techniques and recipes I came across over the holidays (and sorry, it's the antithesis of fat free: CHEESE!): Mediterranean blackened sweet peppers, South American chimichurri marinade and a favourite in any Indian household, paneer (indian cheese)!
The blackened sweet pepper is what excites me the most about this recipe. It feels so wrong to grill a pepper until the skin turns back, I mean it's basically burnt! But peeling off the burnt skin reveals the softest, most intensely sweet pepper tasting flesh you'll ever try. I know you can buy these already done for you in jars, but where's the fun in that!?

This is a brilliant starter dish or a side for a main course. The sweetness of the pepper works especially well with the heat of the chilli. If you haven't tried paneer before, this is a great way to try it. Simple and delicious!

Chimichurri Paneer stuffed Peppers (makes 4):

4 medium to large red/yellow/orange peppers
250g paneer, cut into 1 inch cubes
approx 75g frozen spinach or a large handful of fresh washed spinach
approx 20 cashew nuts (optional, for chimichurri chutney)
For the chimichurri:-
a bunch of coriander
a bunch of parsley
1/2 hot green chillies
3 tbsp rapeseed/vegetable oil
1 tbsp water
4 tbsp lemon juice

Start by blackening your peppers. Simply stick them under a grill turned up to its hottest temperature. Turn as soon as the first side is blackened. Keep turning until all sides are blackened. Alternatively you can achieve the same effect by turning the peppers on an open flame or a really hot pan without any oil. Once the peppers are blackened. Let them cool for about 5 to 10 minutes then, peel off the skin and remove the stem and seeds.

Next, make the chimichurri marinade. Simply whiz the coriander, parsely, chillies (add according to how hot you like things), oil, water, lemon juice and a pinch of salt and pepper in a blender until everything is combined into a liquid consistency.

Now, marinade the paneer in the chimichurri. (Hold about 4 to 5 tbsp of chimichurri back.) Coat each cube of paneer then cook in a dry pan for about 5 minutes on a medium heat until the paneer has softened. Add the spinach and keep tossing together until its completely defrosted. (Or if you're using fresh, cook until the spinach has wilted slightly.)

For the final assembly, just split the paneer mixture into four equal parts and stuff each pepper. Don't worry if the pepper splits in places, but try to keep it as intact as possible! These can be put in the fridge and kept for later or cooked immediately. To cook simply bake for 15 to 20 minutes in a preheated oven at 190°C.

To serve with the stuffed peppers you can make a chimichurri chutney using the remainder of your chimichurri marinade. Simply add about 20 cashew nuts in the tray with the peppers as they bake. Remove the nuts after about 5 minutes once they've turned slightly golden in the oven. Whiz these up with the remaining chimichurri marinade and you'll have a chutney to serve with your stuffed peppers!

This is definitely a recipe to try, a definite crowd pleaser!

Until next time... 

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