Cooking rice in bulk can be helpful. Unless you have just one recipe to prepare and you go way overboard with the doses. No panic though! Two other simple preparations and nothing will go to waste!
When I cook with rice, I usually do not weigh it. The handful rule (see below*) inherited from my mum always works really well, and risottos and rice salads never end up with extra portions (unfortunately, sometimes).
This was a different story though. It was the first time I attempted to prepare peppers stuffed with rice, and I thought the handful rule was going to work there as well. I realised too late that in this case, it should be changed from *two handfuls per person plus one for the pan, to one handful per pepper and that’s it.
Anyway, using the classic dose I ended up with way more rice than I was going to use to stuff the peppers. Also because, for this recipe, peppers need to be baked empty first, then filled with the rice mixture and then just broiled for a few minutes. And obviously, once cooked, they lose water and their shape, requiring less filling.
Another rule I learnt from my mum is no food should go to waste. Therefore, with lots of rice unused, there was the need of coming up with some other preparations. Oh, another thing I forgot to mention, I realised the rice was too much after preparing the filling for the peppers. So yeah, basically the flavour was already set, and the thought process was more about how to present it in a different way.
But let’s start with the first recipe, peppers stuffed with Mediterranean rice.
Ingredients (for 2 peppers – 4 halves)
- 2 bell peppers – I suggest red or green because they are sweeter than green ones
- two handfuls Arborio rice
- 100g crumbled feta cheese
- 50g sundried tomatoes, roughly chopped
- 80g frozen peas, thawed and drained
- 1 teaspoon dried basil
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder or garlic paste
- salt and pepper to taste
Pre-heat the oven to 200ºC fan. Cut the bell peppers in half, remove the stalk and the seeds, and cut the white bits away. Line a baking sheet with greaseproof paper, and place the pepper halves cut side down on it. Roast in the oven for 30-40 minutes, until they are soft and the skin is slightly charred. This will also help in peeling off the skin, if you wish to do it, and make them more digestible.
In the meantime, bring a pan of water to the boil. Add some salt, and cook the rice for 16-18 minutes. Drain, rinse with cold water to remove the excess starch and set aside in a colander to drain the excess water.
Tip the rice in a bowl, add the feta cheese, the peas and the sundried tomatoes and mix well. Season with herbs, garlic, salt and pepper.
Take out the peppers from the oven and turn it to grill function. Turn the halves upside down and scoop some rice mixture in. Return to the oven for 5-10 minutes, until the surface is crispy. Serve immediately.
What to do with the leftovers
Now, if you follow the recipe above, you shouldn’t have any leftover rice. So technically this header should not apply to you. But, you can also read it as alternative recipes with the same rice mix, so follow me.
Mediterranean rice timbale
You can serve this rice mix as a timbale as well. For this recipe, you do not need the peppers (stating the obvious) but require some additional ingredients:
- 1 whole egg, beaten
- 50g parmesan cheese, grated
- 1 teaspoon butter
- 2 tablespoons breadcrumbs
Pre-heat the oven to 180ºC fan. Prepare the rice mix in the same way described above, but add the beaten egg and the parmesan cheese. Grease a nonstick baking tin with the butter and sprinkle it with the breadcrubms to evenly coat the surface. You have two choices here, if you prefer a shallow timbale, use a baking dish for lasagna, whereas if you prefer a thicker version, use a plumcake tin.
Scoop the rice mix in the tin, press it down with the back of a spoon, and sprinkle more breadcrumbs on top. Bake for 40-45 minutes until it is set and the surface is crispy. The timbale can be served either warm or cold (the next day is even better).
Mediterranean rice fritters
Alternatively, the same mix for the timbale can be served as fritters. These are good as finger food for an aperitivo, or as an appetiser.
Prepare the mix as above, with the beaten egg and the parmesan. Using a spoon, make some medium-sized balls with the mixture (they should fit in you hand), and place them on a sheet of greaseproof paper.
Again, the choice is yours now. You can either fry them in a shallow pan with some vegetable oil, 3-4 minutes each side, then place them on kitchen paper to remove the excess oil. Or, for a lighter version, bake them in the oven, 200ºC fan for 15 minutes.
In any case, press the balls down with a spatula in the pan if you’re frying or before baking, to obtain a patty shape.
Serve them with some fresh salad and some dips of your choice.
Did it ever happen to you to prepare too much of an ingredient and to have to come up with backup plans? Let me know in the comments below!
I hope you enjoyed this recipe!
See you soon!