One of my favorite meals is Spinach Pie – similar to Spanakopita, but I prepare it like a quiche. The problem is that Chef is not a super fan of quiche, and I haven’t mastered the art of quiche for one. Needless to say, it’s one of my favorite flavor combinations, so a few years ago, I simplified the recipe to stuff into mini bell peppers.
To prepare the peppers, I simply cut the tops off, and using a pairing knife or grapefruit spoon, I cut the seeds out.
Let’s pause on the recipe for a moment. I haven’t really taken much time to discuss kitchen must-haves. And my list is long, and my must-haves definitely can fall into the you-really-don’t-need-this-but-its-too-cool-a-gadget-to-not-have, and in truth it’s why I haven’t said much. In reality you need very few things to execute great recipes. One of them is a pairing knife. Yes, you can go into any store a buy one. And yes, they range in price. You can buy a cheap one and be happy, or an over the top expensive one and be happy. Makes no difference, but you need to like the way it feels in your hand. Chef’s tip – it needs to be sharp, too.
Alright, back to the peppers. Up next the filling. I start with an egg, salt, pepper, dill, and a bit of half and half. (You can sub milk, heavy cream, or whatever you use at home.)
You want to beat just until it’s mixed, and then add the feta and cottage cheese. (I keep cottage cheese as a staple, but if want a richer recipe, you can substitute ricotta.)
Once combined, I add the chopped spinach. This recipe is easier to execute with frozen spinach. I just quickly defrost what I need in the microwave and squeeze the excess moisture out with a paper towel.
One thing about this flavor profile, it can easily be changed. A little nutmeg, red pepper flakes, chopped scallions, they all add a nice complexity. A dear friend of mine shared this Cape Herb & Spice with me. I think it’s easy for people to make assumptions about sriracha as being “hipster,” but in reality, it is a great addition to many recipes, giving food another layer or dimension. I added a dash as a little goes a looong way. This forewarning reminds me of a funny story.
When I was in college, I worked for a local Maryland farm at their Farmer’s Market stands in Baltimore and Dupont Circle. A luxury of working for them was that I could purchase some treats for a minimum fee or sometimes was given veggies for free. On a specific Saturday, I brought home some habaneros. This is what happened…
Me, to three of my brothers as I am running out of the kitchen, “I left some produce on the counter. Don’t touch the peppers. They are habaneros.”
What they heard, “Hey, see those peppers, touch them, and take a big bite out of them. They are really good.” And they dared each other to bite into them. Who in their right mind?!?!?!?! There were tears of agony and hilarity at the whole situation.
Every day, these four men bring me so much joy and torment. L&L are following right in their footsteps.
Onto the messy assembly of stuffing the peppers. I use a teaspoon for filling the peppers. If they are very narrow, I use the handle of the spoon as a spatula to make filling them easier.
As if the act of filling them isn’t messy, now they need to stand up in a baking dish. Grab your tin foil. I make a loose ball, that holds the peppers up and I can slowly tighten it to fit the space.
All stuffed and ready to go…
Bake at 400 degree oven for 25 – 35 minutes and serve. These peppers make great leftovers for snacks for several days after.
Spinach Stuffed Peppers
1.5 lb bag of mixed mini bell peppers, tops trimmed off and cleaned of seeds
2-3 T half and half
1 t dill weed
1 c feta cheese crumbles
1 c cottage cheese
8oz chopped spinach
optional: nutmeg, or scallions, finely chopped, or red pepper flakes, or Sriracha chili powder
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
In a bowl, combine, egg, half and half, dill, salt and pepper, and optional seasonings. Add feta and cottage cheese, mix until combined. Add the spinach.
Grease a shallowing baking dish or soufflé dish. Fill the peppers. Using tin foil, if needed to help them stand.
Bake for 25-35 minutes.