Last December, The Spouse spent 2 weeks in India for off-shore work. About a month ago, one of the guys he met and trained in India came here to the US for more work and training. So, tonight, we extended an invitation for dinner.
The big pre-requisite for dinner was that it had to be meatless. My pre-requisite was that I was not going to make Indian food because, quite frankly, that would be silly.
We had initially thought about making my famous Vegetarian Lasagna but thought "Hey, I can cook a brand-new meal for company. Why not? If it sucks, we can always get a pizza." But it turned out great! The recipe originally called for prosciutto, but I just left it out completely.
Stuffed Peppers with Lavender Couscous
1 cup uncooked couscous
2 tbsp unsalted butter
1 cup vegetable broth
2 tsp lavender, finely ground
3 tbsp olive oil
1 can artichoke hearts, drained and quartered
2 shallots, chopped
1/2 cup olives (such as nicoise or kalamata), cut in half and pitted
1/2 cup pine nuts, toasted
3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 red bell peppers
2 yellow bell peppers
1/2 lb fresh mozzarella, cut into slices
Place the couscous in a large heatproof bowl and top with butter. Bring the broth and lavender to a boil in a small saucepan and pour over the couscous. Stir, cover the bowl, and set aside for 10 minutes. Fluff with a fork and set aside.
Heat 3 tbsp of the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the artichokes and shallots. Sautee 10 minutes for until the artichokes are soft and slightly browned. Stir into the couscous and let cool slightly. Add the olives, pine nuts, and parmesan. Stir well and season with salt and pepper.
Preheat oven to 400F. Slice the bell peppers in half lengthwise and remove the seeds and membranes. Brush the outside of the peppers with the remaining 1 tsp olive oil. Evenly divide the couscous mixture among the peppers. Place in a 13 x 9 inch baking dish, evenly distribute the mozzarella over the peppers.
Pour about 1/2 inch of water in the bottom of the baking dish and cover the dish loosely with foil. Bake for 40 minutes or until the peppers are very tender. Cool slightly before serving.