Sunday, January 16, 2011

Artichoke and Fire Roasted Pepper Couscous

Have you ever fire roasted bell peppers? I know it's convenient to buy the bottled peppers from the grocery store, but it's inexpensive and easy to simply do it yourself. I buy a big bag of mixed bell peppers from Costco and roast them for weekly meals, and it definitely saves me some dough.

Now here's the thing: I have an electric oven, so my instructions for "fire" roasting are for all of those people out there who are frustrated with instructions calling for an open flame. It's bad enough having to use an electric stove and oven, so I figured I'd offer my tips for overcoming this kitchen obstacle.

First, cut the tops and bottoms off your bell peppers, cut them in half lengthwise, and scoop out the seeds and membranes. Next, cut the peppers into big slices and arrange on a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil. Roast the peppers (outside skin up) in a preheated broiler for 15-20 minutes, or until blackened. Remove the peppers from the baking sheet and put them in a brown paper bag or ziploc bag. Leave to steam for 10 minutes, or until cool enough to handle. Remove the blackened skins from the peppers and slice into strips. Roasted pepper strips will last up to five days in your fridge (alternatively, you can freeze them).

I love simply eating roasted bell peppers out of the container, but I also love them in salads and pasta dishes. They add a bit of sweet flavor and color to any dish, but below is one of my favorite ways to use bell peppers.

Artichoke and Fire Roasted Pepper Couscous

1 1/4 c. low sodium chicken broth or chicken stock
1 c. couscous
1 tsp. olive oil
1-13.75 oz. can artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
2/3 cup roasted red pepper strips
1 tbsp. capers, rinsed
Fresh ground black pepper

1. Heat chicken broth or stock in a saucepan until boiling. Add couscous, remove from heat, and cover five minutes. Fluff couscous with a fork.

2. Combine olive oil, chopped artichoke hearts, red peppers, capers, and black pepper with couscous, and serve immediately.

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