Yummy Easy Quick Around The World by Matt Preston. Published by Plum (through Pan Macmillan)
MAKES: 4 LARGE OR 6 MEDIUM
PREP: 20 MINS
COOKING: 2 HOURS
“Stuffing vegetables and rolling stuff in vine leaves. These two techniques take on an important cultural significance
in this particular corner of the world. I didn’t know this when my mum would serve up roasted capsicums that were slightly slumped by the twin assault of roasting and stuffing; I just thought it was a tasty dinner, and the balance of the salty, meaty filling was ‘ace’ with the crimson flesh, its sweetness intensified by the oven.
I fear that the joy of the stuffed capsicum – like that of the baked potato or leeks rolled in ham and baked in a cheese sauce – has been lost to this generation. So let’s bring it back! If it’s going to be a campaign, we need a better hashtag than #getstuffed. Your inspiration is required, so make the dish, photograph it and post it on Insta tagged @mattscravat with your idea of the perfect #hashtag for the campaign.” p. 182
125 ml (½ cup) extra virgin olive oil, plus extra for brushing and drizzling
1 white onion, finely chopped
2 celery stalks, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
400 g lean beef mince
2 medium zucchini, coarsely grated
4 thyme sprigs, leaves stripped
3 teaspoons dried Greek oregano leaves
1 teaspoon dried mint leaves
½ whole nutmeg, finely grated
1½ teaspoons ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons sea salt
lots of freshly ground black pepper
100 g (½ cup) long-grain white rice
1 × 400 g can crushed tomatoes
150 ml chicken or beef stock, plus extra if needed
1 cup coarsely chopped flat-leaf parsley
25 large mint leaves, thinly sliced
75 g pine nuts, lightly toasted
4 large or 6 medium red capsicums (look for straight sides with stalks if possible)
Preheat the oven to 220°C/200°C fan-forced. Heat 60 ml (¼ cup) of the oil in a large frying pan over medium–low heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring, for 3 minutes, then add the celery and cook, stirring, for 2minutes or until just soft. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, for a further 2 minutes oruntil aromatic. Spoon the mixture into a bowl and set aside.
Increase the heat to high. Heat half the remaining oil in the same pan. Add half the beef and cook, breaking up the meat with a wooden spoon, for 5 minutes or until nicely browned. Transfer to a bowl. Repeat with the remaining oil and beef. Return all the beef to the pan and stir in the zucchini, thyme, dried oregano and mint, nutmeg, cinnamon, salt and pepper. Cook for 1 minute or until well combined.
Stir in the onion mixture, then add the rice, tomatoes and stock and bring to the boil. Immediately reduce the heat to low and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, for 15minutes or until the rice has absorbed the liquid and the mixture looks moist but not saucy. You can always add a little more stock if needed. The rice will still have a little
resistance to the bite, but don’t worry as it will continue to soften in the oven. Stir the parsley, mint and pine nuts into the mince mixture. Season again if needed andremove from the heat.
While the filling is cooking, prepare the capsicums. Use a sharp knife to slice around the top of each capsicum to create a lid. Try to do this neatly as this top will go back on. Carefully hollow out the middle, removing the seeds and membrane with a spoon. Brush the capsicums all over with oil, including the lids. Use a tablespoon to fill the capsicums with the hot mince mixture, but don’t overload them as the filling will expand during baking. Top with the capsicum lids.
Dig out a high-sided ceramic or cast-iron baking dish that will snugly fit the capsicums ina standing position. Transfer the capsicums to the dish and drizzle with a little extra oil. Cover the dish with baking paper and then with foil (the baking paper stops the capsicums from sticking to the foil) and tightly seal. Bake for 1 hour, then uncover and bake for a further 30 minutes. The capsicums will be soft and nicely browned.
Remove from the oven and leave to cool down a bit. Serve just as they are or with the Greek salad.