RECIPE: Goat Cheese and Basil Stuffed Peppers

More than half of the food the average Trinbagonian eats is imported. This should come as no surprise since our twin isle’s annual food import bill is approximately $6 billion. By purchasing local, you funnel money back into our community and support its growth and sustainability for future generations. Our weekly column “In Season” features a sweet and savoury recipe for one readily-available ingredient, so you can take advantage of the vibrant bounty from farmers’ markets, local farm stands, and your own yard.
 
Basil or Saint-Joseph's-wort is commonly used fresh in recipes and often added towards the end of the cooking process to prevent its distinct aroma and flavour from being ruined. Basil’s notes can be described as sweet and lemony with subtle hints of mint and pepper. However this usually all depends on the type of basil you use. Sweet basil has notes of clove, Genovese basil is similar to sweet basil but much potent and lemon basil is unsurprisingly lemony! Most persons associate basil with Italian cuisine, but its flavour profile lends beautifully to many other dishes and cuisines. Thai basil, a more savoury and licorice-like strain of the herb, is often used in Southeast Asian cooking. Basil also beautifully perfumes cocktails and ice-creams and can be a delightful addition to any salad. So yes, basil is not just for your pasta sauce.
 
Goat Cheese and Basil Stuffed Peppers
 
This vegetarian dish is so hearty that you don’t even miss the meat! The sweet marinara, creamy cheeses and fresh basil make a perfectly balanced lunch or side dish. There is minimal cooking plus, you can stuff it with anything you have on hand like pelau, pilaf or even quinoa. Hooray for easy, delicious meals!
 
Yields: 10 servings
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes
 
INGREDIENTS
 
2 cups marinara sauce
6 large sweet peppers
2 cups leftover seasoned rice, pelau or pilaf
8 ounces ricotta cheese
8 ounces goat cheese
6 sprigs fresh basil
4 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and black pepper to taste
 
DIRECTIONS
 
1 Preheat the oven to 350°F. Fill a casserole dish, or 8x8 baking pan with marinara sauce.
 
2 Wash and cut the sweet peppers; slice off the tops of each and set aside for later. Discard the seeds.
 
3 Place the peppers into the dish and fill each two-thirds way with rice.
 
4 In a small bowl, mix basil and ricotta and goat cheeses until evenly combined. Top the peppers with this cheese mixture.
 
5 Place the tops of each pepper back on and drizzle the with olive oil and season with salt and black pepper
 
6 Bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour, or until tender.
 
7 Serve right away and savour the taste.
 
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