Friday, 17 August 2012

Tofu-Stuffed Peppers

Today I'm going to talk about my Minnesotan friends, Shyam and Ian.  Ok I promise it relates to these peppers. Kind of.  See, I work at a pub and today there was a table of Minnesotans.  And this relates to these tofu-stuffed peppers because I work near the unofficial China Town, and I passed by China town to get the tofu.  Tofu's already popular enough in Italy to be found in practically any supermarket. Ah, but for silken tofu, dried tofu, smoked tofu etc. you need to go to the Chinese supermarkets/health stores.  When it comes to smoked tofu, I actually prefer the Westernized versions in health stores, but it's mid-August and Rome's on holiday -- most stores are closed ---most, but not all, no, not the hard-working Chinese people. So I go to the Chinese supermarkets for smoked tofu.
Back to Shyam and Ian now.  I was telling the table of Minnesotans at work about my two friends, and I think that led to the good tip. That and the fact that they broke a glass so I guess they felt bad. Shyam's a good friend from high school, he's Indian and my love for Indian cuisine drew me to him. That may also be why one of my best friends in university right now is also Indian. Anyway, he'd take me to the best Indian restaurant in Beijing, get special discounts because he knew the owner, and I got to steal bits of his school lunch.  While he's not actually Minnesotan, he studies in Minnesota.  Smart guy. Good guy. He can cook as well. 

And then there's Ian.  He was my high school Geography teacher. He's properly Minnesotan.  Now we're good friends and him along with my other high school teacher, Gareth, are the ones that keep telling me to follow my dream and do what I love, something related to cooking and food. Meh. We'll see.  Thanks, though.
Smoked tofu, honestly, I like eating them plain as well, not much work is needed.  But I fancied a change and I like peppers and I didn't have any rice/pasta to stuff them with, so here are some tofu-stuffed peppers.  Mediterranean flavored.  Mirasol peppers are really sweet and it's got berry-notes, but you can use other sweet peppers as well.

Serves 1
1 mirasol pepper or other sweet peppers
Cherry tomatoes, chopped, about 1/2 cup
Firm smoked tofu, cubed, about 1/2 cup (you can use plain tofu)
1 garlic clove
2 tbsp olives, chopped
1 tsp paprika
1 sprig of basil
2 tbsp parmesan
olive oil

Preheat the oven to 200C.  Cut the peppers in half, get rid of the seeds.  Put the two halves in a baking tray, drizzle generously with olive oil and put it in the oven for 40 minutes.
While the pepper halves are cooking, make the filling.  Heat some oil in a pan, add garlic, fry until fragrant.
Add tomatoes and a bit of water.  Let cook for five minutes, then add tofu and olives.  Cook for another 5 minutes.  Add paprika and season with salt and pepper.
Put the filling into the pepper halves, top with some torn basil leaves and parmesan.  Drizzle over some water if they seem a bit dry, and place them back in the oven for 20 more minutes.
Serve with a drizzling of extra virgin olive oil and some fresh basil leaves.

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