Back when Peter and I lived in Hamden, CT, we entered the stage of our lives I call “The Era of New Foods“. We finally had a kitchen that could fit more than 1.71 persons and enjoyed easy access to all the food shops southern Connecticut had to offer.
One of our many weekly stops was to Liuzzi’s, an Italian grocery situated all-too-conveniently nearby. It was there we discovered the wonders of Italian cheese, including the perfect baking cheese: scamorza. Similar to mozzarella, it has a stronger taste and more “mozzarella-like” texture, if that makes any sense. It’s the ideal cheese to stretch for miles like in the old-fashioned pizza commercials.
When we found scamorza in a local grocery in Illinois, I knew I had to make use of this beautiful cheese. I do wish I had remembered to take a picture of it before slicing it into paper-thin rounds (some of which were consumed on the spot) … but, no. That would have required too much forethought. See the link above for a picture.
I’ve been meaning to make stuffed peppers for a while, and my sister’s visit seemed the perfect opportunity. I know this recipe will find its way into my regular rotation. Enjoy!
Bonus shot: evidence of how my camera aim is SO GOOD:
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 75 minutes
Keywords: bake saute appetizer entree side vegetarian
- 1/2 cup brown or red rice (or a mixture of both)
- 1 1/2 cups water
- 4 large green peppers
- 1 pound firm tofu, diced into 1/2-inch cubes
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 tablespoons fresh basil or thyme, chopped
- 2 cups crushed tomatoes
- 4 oz. scamorza, shredded or thinly sliced
Place rice and water in a medium pot and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat to low, and simmer 45 minutes or until tender. Set aside.
While rice cooks, preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Cut tops off green peppers and remove insides. Place inside a baking dish.
Heat olive oil in a skillet over medium heat and add garlic and tofu. Cook, stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes. Add chopped herbs and crushed tomatoes. Continue cooking for 5 more minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste. Add rice and combine.
Put about 1 tablespoon of scamorza in the bottom of each pepper. Fill each pepper halfway with rice and tofu mixture, then add another tablespoon of scamorza. Fill the peppers the rest of the way with the rice mixture, then top with the remaining scamorza.
Bake 25 minutes or until cheese is brown and bubbly. Serve immediately.
Q: What new food(s) have you tried lately?
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It’s Pumpkin Week on THIH!
After the accidental Ricotta Week due to my excessive retail grocery habit, I asked for suggestions for planned Ingredient Weeks. You delivered!
The first Ingredient Week was suggested by my sister Courtney, who recommended pumpkin. In the spirit of choosing challenging ingredients (a.k.a. trying to make Ingredient Week as difficult as possible), I almost decided to push pumpkin until later on in the year when it wasn’t expected.
Imagine: “Hello, dear reader! It’s July, and my secret ingredient is … pumpkin!”
Yeah … no.
I’m all for choosing in-season fruits and veggies (let’s just ignore the fact that I’m using canned pumpkin in this recipe, shall we?). Also, with Halloween just one day away, why not embrace this delicious orange veggie?
And so, for the first Pumpkin Week recipe: Pumpkin Mac and Cheese!
I made the recipe lighter than traditional mac ‘n’ cheese recipes by relying on the canned pumpkin to thicken up the sauce (instead of, say, cream). The final result is melt-in-your-mouth creamy.
On a whim, I also added a dried herb that I’ve never used before.
That’s right: sassafras! I swear, I’m not as crazy as this post makes me seem.
We found dried sassafras on our visit here. Having never used sassafras before (except as file powder in gumbo), I felt a little foolish adding it to mac ‘n’ cheese — and yet! There’s something to be said for being fearless in the kitchen. On another note, it’s funny how often “fearless” and “foolish” coincide.
In this case, being “fearish” paid off: the sassafras added a rich flavor layer to the mac ‘n’ cheese I’ve never tasted before. All of this was lost on Peter, who proceeded to douse his portion in Frank’s hot sauce per usual.
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Keywords: bake entree vegetarian pumpkin
- 2 cups dried short pasta, such as macaroni or penne (about 8 ounces)
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1-1/2 cups skim milk
- 4 ounces Fontina cheese, shredded to make about 1 cup
- 1-15 ounce can pumpkin
- 1 teaspoon dried sage or sassafras
- 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Cook pasta in a large pot according to package directions. Drain cooked pasta and set aside.
Melt butter over medium heat in a large saucepan. Stir in flour, salt, and pepper, then add skim milk. Cook and stir over medium heat until slightly thickened and bubbly (it won’t get very thick yet). Stir in cheese, pumpkin, and sage or sassafras and cook until cheese is melted.
Stir pasta into sauce until pasta is coated. Transfer pasta and cheese to an ungreased 2-quart rectangular baking dish.
Sprinkle Parmesan cheese over pasta. Bake, uncovered, for 30 minutes or until top is golden. Let stand 10 minutes before serving.
Q: What’s YOUR favorite way to enjoy pumpkin?
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