Friday, 6 September 2013

Stuffed Capsicum - spiced mince beef

Stuffed Capsicum - spiced mince beef

I'm back! Did you miss me? I was off on holidays sharpening my culinary skills through a trip to Italy and France. Most of the sharpening happened by merely eating out at some fantastic restaurants, however I was lucky enough to partake in a week long cooking school in a tiny village in the South West of France.  It was fantastic. The people were fantastic. The food was fabulous. The sunflowers were in full bloom.
And now I am on a diet.
Welcome back to reality where foie gras cannot be eaten daily for canap├ęs.
I've decided to stick to a diet full of veges and protein, with fewer grains and carbs. Stuffing and baking capsicum was one of the first things I made once home, and it was good.

It's quite meaty, so feel free to substitute half of the mince with either cooked brown rice, quinoa, cracked wheat- or anything else you like! I also made a double batch of mince stuffing for the photos, but the recipe is one batch.

For the mince stuffing- you will need 3 cloves garlic, 500g premium beef mince (the leaner the better, less fat), one large leek, a carrot, one red onion, 2 cloves garlic, some tomato paste, half a lemon and a small bunch of coriander. (And lots of spices and chilli).

First up- turn the oven on to 180 degrees.

Crush the garlic with the side of the knife and dice it up. Peel the red onion and dice it up too (as you can see in the back bowl).
Cut off the green end of the leek- wash, slice it longways down the middle then chop it up.
 Heat up a big pan (or wok) and splash in some olive oil
On a low to moderate heat, slowly saute the onion, garlic and leek
for about 5 minutes until it starts to soften. Then take the leek mixture out of the pan, and turn the heat up.

Ready for the mince to go in the pan, break it up with a wooden spoon, stir around and add all the tasty spices. 

Ready for the spice list? 
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander 
1 teaspoon ground chilli
Some chilli flakes if you're keen
And some ground black pepper.

Now take out your small bunch of fresh coriander, save the leaves, and chop the stalks up really finely.
 Add the coriander stalks to the mince. Don't forget to keep stirring it so it doesn't stick to the bottom.
 When the mince is about 3/4 done
Add the leek and onion mix back into the pan and fold it in. 
Along with one tablespoon of tomato paste.
Now for some extra veges. Peel a carrot and grate it up
Fold it in, for another vege kick! 
Finally add the juice and zest of half a lemon.
 And there we have it. Ready to go in the capsicum. If you were only using half of the mince, now is the time to add in your brown rice or other grain.
 But first, we need to make some capsicum boats! I'm using 5 capsicums to give us some dinner and lunch tomorrow. Hold it on the side, and slice down the side to the core.
 Cut around the green top and through to the other side
This should slice it perfectly in 2. 
Pull the seeds out from the middle 
and lay them in a baking pan with a little olive oil. 
 That's all of them!
 Spoon the mince mixture into the half capsicum cups- you can pack it in. 
 Bake in the oven for 35 minutes and they'll still keep their shape, but be nice and soft.
Once they're out of the oven, top them off with the coriander, and if you like, some natural yoghurt mixed with a little lemon juice. 

Stuffed capsicum - spiced minced beef

5 Capsicums, halved (red peppers)

1 red onion - diced
2 cloves garlic - crushed
1 large leek -chopped
500g premium beef mince (or 300g mince, and 1 cup cooked brown rice or other grain)
1 tablespoon tomato paste
Small bunch coriander- stems and leaves
1 carrot - grated
1/2 lemon- juice and zest
Olive oil

1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander 
1 teaspoon ground chilli
Chilli flakes - optional
Ground black pepper

1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees.
2. Heat a little olive oil in a large frypan, over medium-low heat, saute onion, leek and garlic for 5 minutes or until just soft.
3. Remove leek mixture from pan, increase heat and add mince and spices. Cook mince until 3/4 cooked, when there is still a little pink left, then add the leek mixture back in to the pan.
4. Add tomato paste, grated carrot, finely sliced stems of the fresh coriander, lemon juice and zest. If using the rice, add this now and stir in.
5. Slice the capsicums in half so they form half cups- discard the seeds and stems and place on a baking tray with a little olive oil.
6. Spoon the mince mixture into the capsicum cups, pack it in and bake for 35 minutes, or until the capsicums are soft.
7. Serve with the coriander leaves on top, and if you like, mix some natural yoghurt with a little lemon juice to serve. 

Serves 4.

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