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Chickpea and Orzo Stuffed Bell Pepper

2 red bell peppers for stuffing -- see note
1 cup cooked orzo pasta
1 cup cooked garbanzo beans -- rinsed
3/4 cup Italian stewed tomatoes -- chopped
1 ounce onion -- finely chopped
chopped fresh basil -- divided use
1/2 teaspoon olive oil
pepper -- to taste
1 small zucchini -- finely grated
1 small carrot -- finely grated
1/4 cup raisins -- optional
2 tablespoons dry bread crumbs or cracker meal
balsamic vinegar (optional)


Prepare the bell peppers for stuffing: see directions in the notes. Set upright in a small microwave-proof casserole.


To cook the orzo, bring 2 quarts water to a boil. Add orzo and cook for 7 to 9 minutes (or as directed). Drain, rinse with cold water, and reserve.


Meanwhile, combine the beans, tomatoes, onions, oil and half the basil in a medium-sized saucepan. Bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer until the onions are tender and sweet. Add pepper to taste.


Preheat oven to 400F.


Combine the sauce with the cooked orzo, grated zucchini and carrot. Add raisins, if using. Spoon the filling into the bell peppers (some filling may spill over into casserole). Cover; vent cover. Microwave on high for 6 mins, turning the pan twice. Remove pan from microwave. Remove cover. Sprinkle with crumbs and baked in the conventional oven until crumbs are lightly browned and the peppers are heated through.


May be served with a splash of balsamic vinegar, fig vinaigrette, or Worcestershire sauce.



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