Friday, 19 May 2017

Stuffed Baby Peppers with Spinach and Ricotta

These little gems are a surprisingly healthy treat that are very more-ish and great for sharing (or NOT sharing if you want them all to yourself!).

I must firstly thank a friend, the lovely Audra, for the inspiration for this recipe. She shared a lovely recipe for roasted  piquillo peppers stuffed with goats cheese and spinach, which I changed around a bit (because that's what I do quite often) to suit my own purposes.

I think they're pretty easy to make - certainly not as fiddly as you might think! And they're definitely worth the effort for such a tasty morsel that's full of healthy yumminess - I ate half a quantity for my dinner last night!

The filling makes enough for two batches (as I prefer to use up certain things when I open them where possible, such as ricotta, so that the remains don't waste away in the fridge!), and will keep in the fridge for a couple of days so you can make a second batch fresh when you've eaten the first one! (Or just double up on peppers and make two trays - they are nicest eaten freshly cooked though).
Also delicious served with a selection of mouthwatering antipasti!

This quantity of peppers serves two, if eating as a light lunch type of thing (nice with some dressed Italian leaves on the side) or as a large side dish. It's also great as party food, and compatible with calorie-counted diets, 5:2, LCHF (all green list food, and you can use extra parmesan and a good drizzle of EVOO to top it off if you like) as well as being Syn free for the Slimming World diet (if you use up your healthy extra A choice for the ricotta cheese and up to 9g finely grated parmesan cheese per portion (this is a lot more than you think, especially if you use a microplane grater!).

207 calories per serving (with weights as below, calories in square brackets).

If making one quantity (with 300g baby peppers and a half quantity of ricotta/spinach mix), then it is 414 calories for the quantity, hence if using 12 baby peppers it is approximately 17 calories per stuffed pepper half.

  • 300g baby sweet peppers, around 10 - 12 (red, orange, yellow - double this amount if you want to bake all the mixture at once) [108 calories]
  • 1/2 quantity spinach and ricotta filling (below) [235]
  • 36g optional grated parmesan (9g per person if counting calories/syns - or you could add it to the filling if you prefer, see below) [70 calories for 18g]
  • Fresh basil leaves to garnish [1]
Spinach and Ricotta filling
  • 200g fresh spinach leaves [50]
  • 250g ricotta cheese [332]
  • Bunch of fresh basil [2]
  • 1 large egg, beaten [85]
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper [1]
  • Optional grated parmesan - see above, can be added to the filling or grated on top

1. Lightly wilt the spinach (you can do this by putting it in a colander and pouring over boiling water until it has wilted, or blanching in boiling water for a few seconds, or if it's in a bag and pre-washed, following the instructions for microwaving in the bag, pierce first). Leave to cool until comfortable to handle. 

2. Preheat the oven to gas mark 6, and line a large baking tray with non-stick baking paper.

3. Trim the ends of the stalks of the peppers to neaten them up, then cut in half from stalk to tail (try and do this between the two flattest sides so the peppers sit nicely on the tray) and remove the seeds and any thick white pith. Sit the peppers cut side up on the lined baking tray, and then bake for 10 minutes.

4. Meanwhile, put the ricotta cheese into a bowl and give a good stir with a fork to soften it up. Squeeze the excess water out of the spinach, and then chop the spinach and basil leaves up (reasonably finely) and stir into the ricotta with plenty of freshly ground black pepper, and salt to taste (I use about 1/2 tsp). Taste to check the seasoning, and then stir in the egg until combined.

5. If using 300g peppers, set aside half of the filling in the fridge (it will keep for a couple of days), and put the rest into a food bag and push down into one corner, or use a piping bag with a large round nozzle if you prefer.

6. Take the peppers out of the oven and allow to cool for a couple of minutes (tip out any excess liquid that has collected in the pepper halves first). Snip the very bottom of the corner of the food bag off, and pipe the mixture into the peppers (it should come about about a finger's width for ease of piping). Bake in the oven for around 12 to 15 minutes until the filling is heated all the way through in the biggest peppers.


7. Serve scattered with freshly grated parmesan (unless you chose to put it in the filling) and fresh basil scattered on top and enjoy. Best served warm, however you can also delight in fridge pickings straight from the fridge the next day!

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