Stuffed Peppers

Serves 4

This recipe is easy to prepare, adaptable to what grain is available in your kitchen, and fun in its presentation. This particular version uses barley but it works just as well with any type of left-over grain such as rice or quinoa.

4 medium-sized bell peppers (of the yellow, orange or red organic variety)
1/2 lb fresh tomatoes (peeled, deseeded and chopped) or 1/2 a 14 oz can good-quality plum tomatoes
1 garlic clove, lightly crushed
1 cup pearl barley, rice or quinoa
2 eggs
4 tablespoons grated parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon of fresh thyme as well a few thyme sprigs
1 teaspoon of fresh mint
1 tablespoon olive oil

Heat the olive oil in a heavy pot and add the garlic constantly stirring to ensure that it does not burn.
Add the tomatoes and let lightly simmer for a few minutes.
Cook the barley in lightly salted water for about 50 minutes adding the tomato mixture after about 25 minutes.  (If the grain is already cooked, drain the tomatoes before you add in the grain, and incorporate fully.  Heat for five minutes so that the grain does not become too mushy.)
Heat the oven to 350 degrees.
If the barley seems to be too watery, boil it down to let the liquid evaporate.
Take off the heat and let it cool a little.
In the meantime, cut the peppers lengthwise leaving the stems, and removing the seeds and ribs.
Add the eggs, cheese, thyme and mint to the barley and mix well.
Fill the peppers with the barley mixture on a lightly oiled baking sheet adding a thyme sprig or two on each pepper.
Bake in oven for approximately 20 minutes.
Serve warm.

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