I can’t believe it’s already April! The plants in the greenhouse are doing incredibly well. A variety of herbs; two types of thyme, rosemary, cilantro, our curry plant, tarragon, chives, purple basil, sweet Italian basil, sage, parsley, oregano, dill, lettuce and cilantro seedlings, three types of tomatoes, poblano, bell, and jalapeño peppers. Even our grapevine is going insane and starting crazy production. It’s going to be a great spring and summer!
On another (happy-sad) front, my very best friend, Renee, is moving to Australia NEXT Sunday. I’m not sure what I’ll do without her (probably cooking a whole lot more 🙂 than I have been), but many of my coming recipes will be dedicated to Renee and her new adventure in Australia with the love of her life, Matt! W and I couldn’t be happier for her, and I hope that chronicling my recipes will help inspire her in her new town of 1,000 inhabitants. <3 Stay tuned; next weekend is the big send-off, so I should have some photos/recipes from Renee’s Big Going Away Bash.
On a happier note, this year is simply flying by, and it won’t be too long before W and I are relaxing in the middle of the Mediterranean. First stop? Italy. More specifically, Sardegna on the Costa Smerelda, for the 2011 Rally D’Italia and after that? Capri! Late last year, right around my birthday, W and I were informed that we had won 5 nights at any hotel from Small Luxury Hotels of the World. We agonized for weeks over where we might like to go, and finally decided on JK Place Capri. Returning to Italy is an amazing opportunity that we could never have dreamed of so soon after our unforgettable vacation last May. I always find that my interest in cooking and experimenting tends to spike before and after our overseas vacations, so I’m looking forward to what inspiration we can derive after this very seafood-centric journey.
Now, onto the Dried Apricot, Date & Lamb Stuffed Peppers. My love affair with dates in meat dishes began with these Date and Olive Braised Chicken Thighs. It’s been quite a while since I made these particular stuffed peppers, but I’ve really been thinking about them quite often lately. They have just the right amount of sweetness and spice, and the sweeter the peppers, the better the stuffing ends up tasting. If you try these and like them, please do let me know!
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/4 cup dried apricots, chopped
- 1/4 cup dates, chopped
- 16 ounces ground lamb
- 4 medium bell peppers
- 2 tablespoons fresh thyme, chopped
- 1 tablespoon fresh oregano, chopped
- 1/2 tablespoon fresh rosemary, chopped
- 1 tablespoon garam masala
- 1 teaspoon curry powder
- healthy pinch ground chipotle chili powder
- 1 cup cooked rice
- 1 cup crumbled feta cheese
- 1 cup cold water
- 1 cup lamb stock (chicken or beef work in a pinch)
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon white sugar
- salt and pepper to taste
Preheat your oven to 375 degrees F.
Heat the olive oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and cook for a few minutes until they appear to be soft and translucent.
Stir in garlic and cook another minute until fragrant. Add the chopped thyme and oregano, as well as the spices (garam masala, curry powder, salt and pepper to taste) and stir around a bit.
Add the lamb and cook until just browned through.
Add the dried apricots and dates and just warm through. Remove from the heat, taste, and adjust seasoning as necessary.
Slice the tops off peppers and remove seeds. Stand peppers upright in a a 9×12-inch baking dish. I also like to cook the tops along with the rest of the peppers for presentation.
In a good sized bowl, combine onion and lamb mixture with the cooked rice. Fold in half of the feta cheese.
Generously stuff the peppers with the mixture and place in the dish.
Mix the lamb stock with the water, lemon juice and sugar. Pour half of the liquid over peppers, and half over bottom of dish. Cover with foil.
Bake in the preheated oven for 45 minutes. Uncover and sprinkle the remainder of the feta over the peppers.
Continue baking 15 minutes, basting occasionally with sauce, until a meat thermometer inserted in center of filling reads 160 degrees F and the peppers feel tender and can be pierced with a fork. You want the feta to just start to go golden, so feel free to whack the broiler on for a few minutes if they aren’t quite getting there on their own.
Serve and enjoy!