Stuffing peppers is a fun way to serve a perhaps otherwise overlooked grain salad at your next backyard get-together. Cubanelle peppers are an ideal choice thanks to their mild spice, thin walls and narrow cone-like cavity.
1/2 cup each cooked romano beans and chickpeas (aka garbanzo beans; or BPA-free no-salt-added canned beans, drained and rinsed)
1/2 cup crumbled low-fat feta cheese
1/4 cup sliced sun-dried tomatoes (not packed in oil)
1/4 cup coarsely torn fresh basil (about 5 medium leaves)
2 tbsp white wine vinegar
1/4 tsp fresh ground black pepper
1/4 tsp sea salt, optional
Preheat grill to medium-high.
Cut tops off peppers, about 1/2 inch. Remove and discard stem and seeds. Dice tops of peppers and transfer to a medium bowl. Set aside bowl and cored peppers.
In a small saucepan, heat 1 1/2 tsp oil on medium-high. Add garlic and couscous and stir until garlic is light golden and fragrant. Add 2 cups water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover and steam for 8 to 10 minutes, until all liquid is absorbed and couscous is al dente. Remove from heat and let stand, covered, for 5 minutes. Remove lid and fluff with a fork.
Meanwhile, grill peppers and zucchini: Grill cored peppers for about 8 minutes, turning occasionally until all sides are lightly charred. Remove peppers from grill and allow to cool at room temperature. Brush zucchini with 1/2 tsp oil and grill for 2 to 3 minutes, turning once, until lightly charred and tender. Let zucchini cool slightly, dice and add to bowl with diced pepper tops.
Add couscous, beans, chickpeas, feta, tomatoes, basil, vinegar, remaining 4 tsp oil, black pepper and salt, if desired, to pepper-zucchini mixture. Mix well.
Stuff about 3/4 cup pepper-zucchini mixture into each grilled pepper; lightly pack filling throughout entire pepper until filling reaches the top. Wrap each pepper tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate for a minimum of 1 hour or a maximum of overnight. (Alternatively, carefully lay stuffed peppers in a shallow tray or dish, cover and refrigerate.)
Sweet bell peppers are tasty little vessels for this Southwest-style stuffing, chock- full of fiber-rich corn, black beans and cilantro. Plus, there’s no need to parboil the peppers to give them tenderness, since they’ll be slowly simmered all day in a smoky tomato sauce.