Roasted Mini Peppers with Lemon Risotto and Roasted Pepper Purée
My blogger friend Val (More then Burnt toast) and I just came back from a fund raising event at the Okanagan Lavender and Herb Farm in East Kelowna. It was a fund raiser dinner event for the Central Okanagan Hospice Association set in the beautiful lavender and butterflies gardens at the “farm”. The food was prepared by local celebrity chef Mark Filatow of the Waterfront restaurant and wine bar fame right here in Kelowna. The light dinner fare was preceded by appetizers served to guests seated at tables set among the fragrant
lavender all around the garden. There were soft little falafel balls,mini lamb sliders (really small), salmon on a skewer, chicken on skewers, grilled apricots wrapped with prosciutto, what else? I’ll have to check the photographs, see images from the event below. This reminded me that I quite enjoy making and serving (and consuming) appies. I came home inspired to post an appetizer recipe, hence this one that I made a little while ago.
This is not a finger food appie, you need a fork and a plate to eat it and it’s a good one to serve at a gathering where all of the food consists of appetizers. It can also make a nice first course (2-3 peppers per person, depending on their size). The little peppers at the market are so enticing. They look so cute and fresh and colourful, they had to make it into a few dishes in my kitchen.
For this recipe you have to roast the little peppers whole, peel off the charred skin and cut a small slit from the stem end downwards through which you remove the seeds and later stuff the peppers with the cooked risotto. A little labour intensive but well worth it, and really, it’s not that bad. I spoon a puree over, made from the same roasted peppers but you can substitute with another sauce or puree of your choice. Roasted red pepper purée is also nice here and the colours are beautiful as well. Everything can be made as far as a day in advance, the peppers roasted and peeled, the risotto cooked, and then you assemble it the day you serve it. You will likely have left over risotto and that’s always a good things. Pretty simple. Here is how to make it.
Roasting the pepper
Small yellow sweet peppers ( 2-3 per person plus a few extra for the purée)
You can roast the peppers on an open flame if you have a gas burner in the kitchen or you can roast them in the oven. To roast over a flame lay the peppers directly over the flame until the skin is nicely charred and blistery. Using kitchen tongs keep rotating the peppers over the flames until all sides are nicely blackened. When done remove and place in a bowl and cover with plastic to allow the hot peppers to steam. This helps loosen the skin and makes it easier to remove the charred skin. When the peppers have cooled sufficiently to be handled peel the skin off and discard.
If you roast the peppers in the oven I would suggest to do it under a very hot broiler. Set you broiler to highest temperature, line a baking sheet with foil and place the peppers
on the foil. Place under the hot broiler, a few inches from the heat, and allow the skin to blacken and blister turning the peppers over once to do the other side. Once they are done place in a bowl, cover with plastic and let cool until you can handle them and remove the blistered burnt skin.
Whatever method you use you should end up with beautiful soft yellow flesh of the roasted pepper. Make a slit in each pepper beginning at the stem end and continuing down but not all the way. You want the pepper to remain as a little container to be filled with the risotto. Through this small slit gently remove the seeds and pith from inside the pepper. Once they are clean and free of seeds the peppers are ready to be stuffed.
Roasted pepper puree
A few (5-6) roasted peppers from the same batch or 2 roasted red peppers prepared the same way, peeled
1 tablespoon olive oil
Salt and pepper
Place all the ingredients in a food processor and pulse a few times until you reach a smooth consistency. Don’t over process.
Use this to spoon over the stuffed peppers.
Preparing the Risotto:
3 tablespoons butter
1/2 small onion, or 1 shallot, minced
1 cup Arborio rice
1/3 cup white wine
4 cups stock (chicken or vegetable)
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 tablespoon fresh lemon zest, minced
Salt and pepper
1/3 cup chopped flat leaf parsley
1 tablespoon butter
1/3 cup grated cheese (parmesan, pecorino)
Bring stock to a boil, lower heat to low and keep warm.
Melt butter in a 2-quart pot, add shallots and cook until soft, about 2 minutes. Add rice and stir to coat the rice with the butter.
Add the wine and cook, stirring, until wine almost evaporated.
Lower heat under the risotto to medium and begin adding the stock, a 1/3 cup at a time, stirring, waiting for the liquid to almost evaporate before adding more.
Half way through the cooking add the lemon juice, zest and taste for salt and pepper.
When risotto is done to your liking stir in the butter, cheese and parsley.
Assembling the stuffed peppers:
Gently spoon the risotto into the roasted little peppers.
If you have prepared them a day before and are assembling today, heat the peppers and risotto in a the microwave just until nicely warm. Alternatively, heat them covered in the oven at about 300℉.