Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Eat Like A Caveman: Stuffed Peppers with Breaded Squash

This afternoon, I wandered into the kitchen on a mission to make dinner.  I had an eggplant in the fridge and I wasn't afraid to use it.

Until I cut it open, that is.  I do not have a vast well of knowledge in regards to cooking eggplant, but I'm fairly certain it's not supposed to be brown and spongy in the middle.  So I was forced to improvise, and this is what I came up with.

Oh dear heaven.

The squash was not exactly an improvisation.  I've been cooking summer squash (and zucchini) like that a lot lately.  It's super-easy and delicious and more satisfying than a plain vegetable of a similar portion size.  The stuffed peppers, however, were completely thrown together with things I had in the fridge.  Nothing unusual in there, but they are so tasty.

For the peppers:

1 lb ground beef  (haha, I just typed "beaf." That was weird.)
1 onion, chopped
minced garlic in an amount you find appealing
olive oil
salt and pepper
1 can drained diced tomatoes OR a few fresh tomatoes if you've managed to get your lazy behind to the farmer's market anytime in the last couple weeks (I haven't)
1 can tomato paste
various fresh or dried herbs with an Italian slant (I was feeling braindead so I just used a handful of fresh basil from the patio pot.  In retrospect it could have also used some parsley, oregano, thyme and/or sage.)
 up to 4 pretty-colored bell peppers (only stuff one pepper per person, unless you have piggy guests)

Throw the beaf (haha) into a medium-hot pan with the onions, garlic, and a glug of olive oil.  Stir up the meat until it's thoroughly browned and crumbled up.  If it seems a little wet, drain it.  If you used 96/4 like me (or if you used bison like an even more awesome person), you probably won't need to.  Add the salt and pepper, tomato, tomato paste, and the herbs, and simmer for a few minutes.  Taste and adjust the seasoning if you feel like it.

Just a note:  this is the most basic of all basic tomato sauces.  It can be adapted to fit a thousand applications.  It is nothing earth-shattering.  My apologies if you were bored stupid and now wish to throw boogers at me for being so lame as to put a plain old tomato sauce recipe on my blog.


Take those pretty-colored bell peppers and slice them in half vertically.  Pull out the veins and seeds, but for God's sake leave the stem on.  Peppers are so pedestrian, they need all the aesthetic help they can get.  Slice that stem in half with the rest of the pepper and all of a sudden you have ART.  Rub a bit of olive oil on the cut edges of the pepper, and rub some oil into the bottom of a glass baking dish.  Bonus points if the dish is pretty, too.  Fill each pepper half with the meatsauce (there will probably be some left over; save it for more peppers, or put it on spaghetti squash, or just eat it with a spoon like Jason did when he got home because he was flipping starving and couldn't wait for dinner) and plop the whole assembly into a 350-degree oven for 20-25 minutes.  The peppers should come out nice and hot but not exactly cooked.  You want there to be some crunch still.

You know how to further elevate it from "dinner" to "ART?"  Stick a tiny freaking basil leaf on it.

Now that breaded squash.  It's not bread at all.  It's almond flour. To make it:

1 medium yellow squash or zucchini, cut into large dice
1/2 tbsp butter
salt and pepper
1/4 cup almond flour
garlic powder

Melt the butter in a medium-hot pan (normally I'm indifferent about cooking surface but this really wants something non-stick, whether it's teflon or well-seasoned cast iron or whatever you use).  Cook the squash for about 5 minutes, giving it a sprinkle of salt and pepper.  Scatter half the almond flour over the veggies, along with some more salt and pepper and a dusting of garlic powder.  Toss to coat (stirring just doesn't work, sorry).  Scatter the rest of the almond flour; toss it again.  Turn up the heat a few degrees; we want to crisp up the breading a bit, but we don't want to burn it.  Keep tossing the squash every 30 seconds or so; try to make sure it turns so each side gets browned.  Serve it nice and hot and try not to stuff it all in your mouth at once because it is DELICIOUS.

And I leave you with this artistic shot of some admittedly poorly-browned breaded squash.

It's not really browned.  It's really just kind of beiged.

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