Vegetarian Pelau–Stuffed Peppers
Pelau is like a Trinidadian coconut milk–based pilaf. It’s usually made with chicken, but here we go meatless. It’s perfect for stuffing into peppers to throw on the grill, but you can also serve it as a side dish on its own.
This recipe was featured as part of our tailgating recipe gallery.
- 1 (1 1/2-pound) butternut squash
- 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
- 2 cups thinly sliced scallions (about 12 medium scallions)
- 3 medium garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 1 tablespoon kosher salt, plus more as needed
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 1 medium tomato, seeded and cut into small dice
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
- 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
- 3 tablespoons tomato paste
- 1 1/2 cups unsweetened coconut milk
- 1/2 cup long-grain white rice
- 1 cup frozen black-eyed peas
- 4 medium bell peppers (any color), halved lengthwise and seeded
- 3 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh cilantro
- 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lime juice (from about 3 medium limes)
- 1 teaspoon finely grated lime zest
1Prepare the squash: Peel off the skin with a vegetable peeler. Trim the top and bottom. Cut the neck from the bulb of the squash. Halve each piece lengthwise and scrape out the seeds. Cut the squash into 1/2-inch cubes and set aside (You will need about 2 cups. Save any remaining squash for another use.)
2Place 2 tablespoons of the oil in a Dutch oven or a large, heavy-bottomed pot over medium heat. When it shimmers, add the sugar and stir until incorporated. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the sugar dissolves and the mixture turns dark brown, about 5 minutes. Add the squash, 1 1/2 cups of the scallions, the garlic, and the measured salt; season with pepper; and stir to coat the squash. Cook until the squash has softened, about 4 minutes.
3Add the tomato, thyme, oregano, and tomato paste and stir to coat the squash. Add the coconut milk and stir to incorporate. Reduce the heat to medium low, cover with a tightfitting lid, and simmer until slightly thickened, about 10 minutes.
4Add the rice and black-eyed peas, stir to incorporate, cover, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the rice is done and the vegetables are tender, about 20 to 30 minutes.
5Meanwhile, heat a grill to medium low (about 325°F). Rub the outside of the peppers with remaining 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil and season both inside and out with salt and pepper.
6Remove the rice mixture from the heat and let it stand covered for about 5 minutes. Stir in the remaining scallions and the cilantro, lime juice, and lime zest.
7Divide the mixture evenly among the peppers (about 1/2 cup pelau per pepper half). Grill, covered, until the peppers are soft and just starting to char, about 30 minutes.
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