After a long and slightly manic day, my Monday night could quite easily be described with this acronym: BOWGGL. In an effort to keep things real, I’ll throw shame to the wind and decode that poorly-produced attempt at creativity; Bachelor, Order-In, Wine, Gossip Girl, and Laundry. A few Mondays ago, this acronym was almost completely intact; however, I decided to substitute the O for an H: Homemade. A few days prior, I had stumbled upon a recipe fit for a homemade kind of Monday night; simple, satisfying, healthy, and red wine-friendly: Ricotta and Swiss Chard Stuffed Roasted Red Peppers. Overall, this dish is packed full of healthy Italian flavors and made blog-worthy by its creamy, silky texture. From start to finish, this Manic Monday Evening special took me an hour to make; however, 30 minutes of that was hands-off roast time. Thus, you’ll be left with plenty of time to fold your laundry, pour yourself a glass of red, and catch the first 10 minutes of Michelle M’s crazy talk before you have to get yourself back to the kitchen. All in a decent night’s work, right? Oh yes, and if you’re dining for one (like I was on this particular evening), this is the perfect option because you’ll have one pepper for dinner and one leftover for lunch the following day. So, set your DVRs to GG, turn your dryers on permanent press, and prepare your palate for a zesty Monday night meal.
Ricotta, Swiss Chard, and Eggplant Stuffed Roasted Peppers (Makes 2)
2 large red bell peppers
freshly ground black pepper
olive oil for rubbing the peppers
1 1/2 tbsp unsalted butter
2 cups diced eggplant
1 cup sliced onion
1/2 lb fresh Swiss chard, cleaned and roughly chopped
1/2 cup ricotta cheese
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
handful fresh basil leaves
2 garlic cloves
2 tbsp olive oil
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Cut the stems from peppers and discard. Remove the seeds and white ribs from peppers. Place the peppers, stem side down, on a baking dish and drizzle with olive oil. Season with sea salt and black pepper. Bake the peppers for 30 minutes or until the skins are wrinkled and slightly charred.
2. Remove the peppers from the oven and place them in a large bowl. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let the peppers steam until they are cool enough to handle (about 10 minutes). Peel the skin from the peppers, making sure to keep them whole, and set peppers aside.
3. While the peppers are steaming, pulse the basil, garlic cloves, and 2 tbsp olive oil in a food processor until blended. Set aside.
4. In a large skillet over high heat, melt 1 tbsp of the butter. Cook the eggplant until beginning to soften, about 5 minutes. Add the onions and cook until softened and slightly browned, about 10 minutes more.
5. Transfer onions and eggplant to a cutting board, let cool, and coarsely chop mixture.
6. Add 1/2 tbsp butter to skillet over medium-high heat and add Swiss chard. Cover the pan and let the chard wilt for approximately 1 minute. Transfer the cooked chard to a bowl.
7. Combine chard, eggplant mixture, ricotta, parmesan, basil mixture, sea salt, and black pepper. Mix well, taste, and adjust the seasoning.
8. Gently stuff the peppers with the ricotta mixture. Place them on their sides in a lightly buttered baking dish. Bake in oven (350 degrees) for 10 minutes or until heated through.