I have maintained for quite a while now that Thai food is my desert island food. It’s sweet! It’s spicy! It’s savory! It’s tangy! Basically: it’s everything. It should come as no surprise, then, that I’ve made it my Life Mission to Thai-ify everything and prove once and for all that there is no meal that Thai flavors can’t improve upon. My latest conquest? The stuffed pepper!
Stuffed peppers are a pretty classic comfort food. What they’re stuffed with depends on what country you’re in, but it usually consists of some mixture of tomato sauce, rice, herbs, ground meat, and cheese. Not that there’s anything wrong with those things, but they just don’t rock my flavor boat the way that Thai curry does! Here, we’ve infused Thai red curry flavor into our stuffed pepper filling by simmering rice and late summer veggies with curry paste and coconut milk. The amount of Thai curry flavor will depend heavily on the brand of curry paste you use, so this is definitely an instance where you want to season to taste.
Arborio rice is used for the filling because it releases a lot of starch, causing the filling to be gloriously creamy, but sushi rice or basmati rice should work as well. Brown rice could be substituted, but the cooking time will have to be adjusted according to its longer cook time needs. The peppers are boiled before filling to give them a head start on cooking. This sounds onerous, but takes almost no time at all. Once stuffed, they are transferred to the oven so that they can caramelize and take on some of that deep sweet roasted red pepper flavor, which really compliments the spice of the filling.
You might have some leftover filling, depending on the size of your peppers. Feel free to serve it alongside the peppers or, if you’re like me, you might not be able to resist snacking on it while the peppers cook! This is a no judgement zone, so just do whatever you feel is right.
- 4 red bell peppers
- 2 tablespoons safflower seed oil
- 1 red onion minced
- 4 garlic cloves minced
- 1 jalapeño pepper seeded and minced
- 1 small zucchini cut into 1/2-inch pieces
- 2 small Thai or Asian eggplants cut into 1/2-inch pieces
- 1 tablespoons minced fresh ginger
- 2 tablespoons Thai red curry paste
- 3/4 cup arborio rice
- 1 3/4 cup coconut milk
- Salt and black pepper to taste
- Preheat oven to 350ºF.
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Slice the top off of the peppers and discard the cores and the stems. Boil the hollowed peppers for 4 minutes, until just tender. Carefully remove and transfer to a paper towel-lined plate to drain.
- In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onion, garlic, and jalapeño along with a pinch of salt. Sauté until softened, about 3 minutes. Stir in the zucchini, eggplant, ginger, and red curry paste. Sauté for 4-5 minutes, until the vegetables just start to soften. Stir in the rice and coconut milk. Bring to a boil and then lower heat to a simmer. Cover and cook over low heat just until the liquid is absorbed, about 15 minutes. Season to taste with salt and black pepper.
- Fill the peppers with the rice and set them in a shallow ceramic baking dish. Bake for 20-30 minutes, until the pepper skins start to wrinkle and brown. Serve warm.