Great Nosh For Little Dosh – Stuffed Jack O Lantern Peppers

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The best thing about stuffed peppers is that you can literally fill them with anything. This is great for vegetarians or people with intolerances. You can do it cheaply and simply and add extra ingredients on the days closer to loan day.

One pepper serves one person:

1.     Get one medium/ large bell pepper of any colour. Wash and slice the top off and then cut out the seeded bit in the middle.

If you want to keep up with the Halloween theme, cut out small, triangle eyes, a nose and mouth. An orange pepper is good to create the Jack-O-Lantern effect.

2.     Preheat the oven to 175 degrees C/Gas Mark 4

3.     Now your options of fillings:

Rice

Boil a quarter cup of rice in two cups of water on the hob. Add a vegetable stock cube so the rice absorbs the flavour. But, leave a tiny bit of the flavoured water to pour over the rice before placing it in the oven, so it does not burn. The rice will take about 15-20 minutes to cook in the pan.

When the rice is nearly done, fry one clove of garlic in oil (or butter), then add half a medium onion, finely chopped.

Drain the rice and rinse with water to get rid of the starch. Mix in the pan with the vegetables and season with salt and pepper.

Couscous

You can buy the pre-flavoured packets really cheaply in most supermarkets. Use about half the packet with 200ml of boiling water. Place both in a jug and allow the couscous to absorb the water, stirring gradually. This will take about five minutes.

Minced meat

Fry the minced meat (about a third of an 800g pack) in a saucepan. In a separate pan fry one clove of garlic in some oil (or butter) then add half a medium onion.

When the mince is brown (about five to 10 minutes), drain any oil and mix together with the vegetables and a tin of chopped tomatoes. Cook for a few more minutes until warm. Season with salt, pepper and, if you are feeling creative, add any herbs or spices from basil, oregano, paprika, cumin or chilli sauce.

This will provide filling for two or more peppers.

*Note: with either you can add shop-bought, cooked-chicken pieces, or any other kind of vegetable, such as mushrooms, courgette, peas, or spinach to make it chunky.

4. Spoon the mixture into your pepper (if you have chosen rice, you can now pour over the flavoured water) and place the top part, you cut off previously, on top. Place on a foil-covered baking tray.

*You can top with grated cheese if you wish. Feta cheese goes well with couscous or rice and fresh spinach.

5. Cook in the oven for 30 minutes to one hour. The peppers should be tender and the filling juicy.

6. Serve with a side salad. This is a great, warming treat for Halloween.

Emma Spencer

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