Red Pepper Pilaf
One of the wonderful things about living in the south of France is the abundance of fresh vegetables all around: in gardens, markets and even sold from little tables by the roadside. One of the great mysteries is what the French actually do with them. There have been many occasions when I’ve played ‘spot the vegetable’ after dinner at a restaurant or with friends. There’ll usually be a salad of some kind, but the conclusion I’ve drawn is that when entertaining, the French relish producing a generous meat or fish dish, and serve it with potatoes. Vegetables, it would seem, are to be eaten quietly, and in private.
But not for this five-a-day Brit. As an infrequent meat-eater, I turn to vegetables, pulses and grains all the time. This pilaf comes from my favourite cookery writer, Nigel Slater, and his wonderful must-have book The 30 Minute Cook. (As the title suggests, every recipe can be prepared within half an hour, making it a perfect source of supper inspiration).
Delicious red peppers, gently sautéd with an onion and garlic, and then simmered in stock with bulgur wheat or quinoa and a dash of paprika – it’s wholesome and nutritious, colourful and tasty, and makes a terrific lunch or buffet table addition. It also works really well as an accompaniment to grilled meat, such as a pork chop.
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To serve two, you will need:
1 small onion or shallot, chopped
1 clove of garlic, crushed
A dash of red chilli paste (or some chopped fresh red chilli to taste)
2 peppers, red, yellow or both
½ tsp paprika
225g / 8oz bulgur wheat or 100g / 4oz quinoa
300m; / ½ pt vegetable stock
a small handful of coriander / cilantro leaves, chopped*
*unfortunately I rarely have coriander, but this dish is still wonderful without it
In a large pan, fry your onion or shallot in the oil until translucent. Add the garlic and chilli and stir. Slice your peppers into eighths lengthways, removing all the seeds, and add to the pan. Then add the paprika, bulgur or quinoa and stock. Stir and simmer gently, covered, for 15-20 minutes until the grain has soaked up all the liquid.
Stir in the coriander, if you’re using it, and enjoy!
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