Thinking ahead to the New Year
This week, much of the world will be celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ with gatherings of food, wine, and gifts. Then in another week, we’ll get drunk and feed our fill even more as we ring in 2011. After the festivities, millions then face the New Year a little heavier and feeling guilty. Gyms will see spikes in memberships, and many new diets will be tried. Unfortunately most will give up around February or March.
I’ve always been more of the mind that most diets fail because people aren’t imaginative enough with what they choose to eat. Raw fruits and veggies are quite healthy and low-calorie, but they get boring very quickly. My way of dieting is simply to find healthier ideas on dishes I love. In this case, it’s a different take on the classic stuffed pepper.
Stuffed peppers are known in many cultures and cuisines. India will stuff peppers with potatoes and seasonings, while Mexico will try cheese in smaller peppers. The Mediterranean region though has set the flavor of the traditional stuffed peppers with ground meat, rice (or breadcrumbs), cheese, and seasonings. Sauces can happen depending on where you’re at.
Now I will eventually put the traditional stuffed pepper on this site, but today I want to share a concoction I came up with on my own. I wanted to make something different, but healthy. The end result utilized marinated chicken with seasonings and red onion. I took a few Greek flavors and tried my own twist. The end result is a flavorful, healthy dish ideal for dieters to fill their stomachs without adding to their waistlines.
Mediterranean Chicken Stuffed Peppers
- 1 tbsp of garlic powder
- 1 tbsp of oregano
- 1 tsp of rosemary
- 1 tsp of pepper
- 2 tsp of salt (sea salt is preferred)
- 1/2 cup of olive oil
- 1 cup of white wine
- 1/2 of a lemon
- 3 boneless skinless chicken breasts
- 1/2 red onion, diced
- 1/2 tbsp of Italian seasoning blend
- 1/2 tbsp of parsley
- 3-5 peppers of any color you desire
Part 1: Marinate the chicken
- Take a container you can close and seal. If none is available to you, then use a pot with a lid or even a food storage bag you can zip shut.
- Add the garlic powder, oregano, rosemary, pepper, salt, olive oil, and white wine to the container. Give it all a stir to mix it all up.
- Squeeze the juice of lemon into the mix and stir a few times. I’ll usually put the half of the lemon into the marinade after squeezing and let it soak with the chicken.
- Place the pieces of chicken into the marinade. Make sure the chicken is coated with it all.
- Close/seal the container and place in the refrigerator for at least six hours. Overnight is a more preferred time frame.
Part 2: Prepare the filling
- Pre-heat the oven to high broil or warm up a grill to medium heat.
- Cook the chicken until 3/4 finished. You do not want to fully cook the chicken here.
- Take the partially-cooked breasts and cut them into cubes.
- In a bowl, combine the chicken with the red onion, Italian seasoning blend, and parsley.
Part 3: Complete the peppers
- Pre-heat the oven to 350º.
- Carefully cut the top of the peppers off and set aside. Clean out the peppers of seeds and innards. Cut any innards off the tops as well.
- Fill each hollowed-out pepper with the filling and place in a baking dish. Place the top back on the pepper as a cover.
- When you have finished all the peppers, place the baking dish with them in the oven. Bake them for 30-45 minutes, or until you see the peppers have softened and the chicken is fully cooked.
When selecting peppers, be sure to go for ones like in the photo. Short and stout with the ability to stand on their own. If you can’t get it to stand on it own, then carefully slice some off the bottom.
The reason you don’t fully cook the chicken in Part 2 is because by the time you finish baking in in Part 3, the chicken would be dry and overcooked. We want to start it in the broil or grill, then finish it in the oven.
The addition of the parsley and Italian seasoning blend is because the filling would taste a bit bland without it, and I’m trying to avoid adding any extra salt. Plus a little green in the filling makes for a more beautiful dish.
The marinade I made my usual recipe for Greek Chicken. You’re free to try your own flavors if you want to get away from Greece. Just be careful that you don’t “unhealthy” up the dish too much in what you try.
If you’re not too concerned with calories, then try adding in some fat-free shredded cheese or sprinkle some grated Parmesan cheese into the filling before you stuff the peppers. Very yummy as well.