This post could alternatively be titled How Not To Prepare A Recipe. Sitting at my desk yesterday, I was going through my mental inventory of the ingredients in my fridge that needed to be used up. I vaguely remembered some fresh thyme and leftover feta haunting my fridge, and decided on a recipe clipped from a copy of Martha Stewart Living (once again, picked over at my stepmother's house): Baked Stuffed Red Peppers with Cherry Tomatoes, Feta, and Thyme.
At the farmer's market yesterday, I picked up some shiny red peppers (and several different types of tomatoes and fresh mint and dark blue grapes and white peaches, but that's another story) and walked home happily after work to prepare my dinner. At the market, I had considered buying more herbs, just in case something was wrong with the ones I had at home, but I was feeling thrifty and decided against it.
As I set about cutting the peppers in half and gathering up the ingredients to stuff them with, I realized that the thyme was AWOL, the feta was no longer particularly fresh, I had no aluminum foil of which to speak of, and that my thriftiness at the farmer's market was going to translate into a pretty bland plate of roasted red pepper halves. But for some reason, I felt stubborn about using up what I had at home, so I replaced the fresh thyme with dried, threw caution to the wind with the odd-tasting feta, left out the basil altogether and figured the peppers would cook just fine without aluminum foil to protect them from the oven heat. To paraphrase Julie, what could happen?
In fact, the peppers turned out just fine. Toasty brown around the edges, with nicely shriveled tomatoes in the middle, they were a serviceable meal. But nothing special beyond that. Plain roasted peppers sprinkled with parsley, capers, slivered black olives and toasted bread crumbs are far superior and probably less work. Then again, if I had followed the recipe, used the right herbs, tented properly with foil and been generally more attentive, maybe I'd be waxing rhapsodic now.
Here's the actual recipe:
2 small red peppers (5 to 6 ounces each), halved lengthwise, with seeds and ribs removed
1 heaping cup (6 ounces) of cherry tomatoes
1 1/2 ounces crumbled feta cheese
1 teaspoon coarsely chopped fresh thyme
8 basil leaves, torn into pieces
Freshly ground pepper
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place pepper halves, cut sides up, in a baking dish. Toss together tomatoes, feta, and herbs in a medium bowl, then season with pepper. Fill each pepper with the tomato mixture. Drizzle each half with oil.
2. Bake stuffed peppers, covered with aluminum foil, untl they begin to soften, about 30 minutes. Remove foil, and continue to bake until the tomatoes begin to burst and the cheese starts to brown, 13 to 15 minutses more. Remove from the oven and serve warm.