Peppers with Almond-Spinach Filling – The Lies of Locke Lamora

Another dish from Locke Lamora’s Welcoming Meal, these stuffed peppers cook just long enough to still have crunch but also some give. The filling, though, is what really makes the dish. Grainy with a bit of give, it almost resembles a somewhat dry couscous in texture. The flavors of the almond and spinach surprised me with how well they combine, and the pine nuts give it a little nudge towards complexity. The pepper serves mostly as a vessel for this amazing stuffing, but oven roasting softens it a bit, and a bite of pepper along with stuffing will not disappoint. 

The stuffing recipe also lends itself well to an alternative pesto. Simply add another cup or so of spinach, and enough olive oil to give the whole mixture a smooth, spreadable consistency.  Or, for a quirkier hummus, add a can of chickpeas to the mix, and puree.

Really, the options are as limitless as your imagination.

Peppers with Almond-Spinach Filling Recipe

Prep: 15 minutes           Baking: 45 minutes

Makes: 4 stuffed peppers

Ingredients: 

  • 1/4 cup pine nuts
  • 1 clove garlic, roughly chopped
  • 3 cups blanched almonds
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3 cups baby spinach
  • 4 smallish red bell peppers
Preheat oven to 350 F. 
In a medium saucepan, combine all ingredients except the spinach and peppers. Cook over medium heat for 2-3 minutes. Add spinach, turn off heat, stir for 30 seconds until the leaves are coated with oil and limp.
Carefully transfer the hot mixture into a food processor and puree. Depending on the consistency, you may need to add extra olive oil and/or scrape down the sides to ensure it’s all mixed thoroughly.
Cut the tops off your peppers, and remove the seeds. Divide the stuffing equally between the four peppers, and arrange in a baking dish. Bake in oven at 350 for 45 minutes, at which point the peppers should be starting to wrinkle at the edges.
Allow to cool slightly before serving or eating.
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