Another warm Temecula Saturday is upon us and we are off to the Old Town Temecula Farmer’s Market to pick up our Inland Empire CSA box. Our first stop is the Sage Mountain Farms booth to check out the amazing selection of locally grown, organic produce. We love this program because we love to eat and cook seasonally and we can’t resist the element of surprise each week! For more information on the program, please visit their website: http://www.inlandempirecsa.com
I bring my secret weapon with me: Chef Andrea from Ava James Catering as she always knows exactly what to do with a big box of random produce, and the results are excellent as usual. The box contains (among other treasures) tomatoes, basil, purple bell peppers and onions. Raised in an Italian home, Andrea’s first thought is a Sunday supper of stuffed peppers, so we head off to gather our remaining ingredients. We pick up some garlic, eggs and parsley at the Sage Mountain booth and then walk down to see Jordan Stone at Delaney’s Hundred Mile Market on 5th. The freshest vegetables call for the most amazing ground meat, so Brandt Beef is the only way to go. We also pick up some fresh made Garlic and Basil Fettucini to compliment our meal. For a taste of Italy by way of Temecula, we offer:
Stuffed Bell Peppers with Marinara Sauce
While we enjoy the traditional American Classic version of this dish, we took it in a more simple Italian direction with delicious results. A vegetarian version can be made by using tofu in place of your ground meat.
Preheat the oven to 375. Lightly oil a baking dish in which the peppers will fit snugly.
4 large or several small bell peppers
Prepare your stuffing:
8 ounces of ground Brandt Beef
1/2 onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup breadcrumbs
1/2 cup fresh parmesan cheese
1/2 cup fresh basil, finely chopped
1 tablespoon crushed red pepper
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp fresh ground pepper
Combine all ingredients and stuff tightly into bell peppers. Bake until peppers are tender and the filling is hot, about 25 – 30 minutes.
Bring to a simmer in a large saucepan over medium-low heat:
2 LBS ripe tomatoes, peeled, seeded and coarsely chopped
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil (we used oil from the Temecula Olive Oil Company)
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1/4 cup fresh basil, finely chopped
2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
2 tsp crushed red pepper
Simmer, uncovered, until sauce is thickened, about 20 minutes. Season with salt and ground black pepper to taste. Chef’s notes: peeling tomatoes can be painless. Simply score the tomatoes with a small X at the base, bring a large pot of water to a boil and pop tomatoes in for about 30 seconds. Remove tomatoes from the water and the skins should slide right off.
Boil pasta according to package directions, assemble your plates and enjoy with a bottle of Wiens Family Cellars 2007 Tempranillo-Petit Syrah as featured in their super cool Wine Sampler Pack. We love that the Temecula Valley offers the best of all things: amazing farm-fresh produce, local merchants who focus on quality and talented wine-makers who know how to make wine that pairs perfectly with what we are serving – just what we need to Eat, Drink and be Merry.