By Celia Brooks, from “SuperVeg.”
Sweet pepper halves act like miniature edible roasting dishes, infusing its stuffing contents with its delectable juices. One of the best fillings is simply to tuck in fresh tomato wedges, garlic slices, and basil, perhaps a few olives and capers if desired, and a glug of fine olive oil. Here’s a variation on that theme, incorporating protein-packed lentils to soak up the nectar. Serve with crusty bread, wholemeal couscous, or other cooked whole grains. Stock your cupboard with packets of ready-to-eat lentils – Puy, green, brown or black – a great modern invention for speed and convenience.
Serves 2 as a main, 4 as a side / Prep 20 mins / Cook 35 mins
2 large round red, yellow or orange sweet peppers (or mixed colours)
200g cooked Puy, green, brown or black lentils
2 garlic cloves, sliced
2 sundried tomatoes in oil, roughly chopped
8 basil leaves, torn
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
4 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
2 plum or vine tomatoes
1) Preheat the oven to 200C. Cut the peppers in half from stem to base, cutting right through the stem, leaving it attached. Carve out the seeds and membranes and discard. Lay the pepper halves cut side up in a baking dish.
2) Place the cooked lentils in a bowl. Add the garlic, sundried tomatoes, 4 leaves of torn basil, salt, pepper, 2 tablespoons of the oil and 2 teaspoons of balsamic. Mix very thoroughly, then divide the mixture amongst the pepper halves, filling them equally. Gently press the surface to compact the filling.
3) Slice the tomatoes 5mm / ¼ inch thick into 8 slices, reserving the ends for another use. Place the tomato slices over the lentils to cover as much as possible, tucking them inside the pepper edges. Top with another torn basil leaf, half a tablespoon of oil each and ½ teaspoon balsamic, and season with salt and pepper. Arrange the peppers so they sit as level as possible to keep the juice in while baking – it might help to nestle them together.
4) Bake for 30 – 35 minutes, until the peppers are very soft and sizzling. Serve hot, warm or at room temperature, with any pan juices poured on.