Another Tuesday on Quail Hill, sunny, dry, August at it’s best. I waited for a little girl to finish using the pitch fork in the potato bed. Her hair was tied back in a pink bandanna. If she dug 10 potatoes I’d be surprised but that’s not what it was all about. The look in her eyes, excitement on her face and tone of her voice screamed the story of perfect summer adventure.
On this particular evening we had an Amagansett resident visiting our table, he lives in a house that sits on the hill that overlooks Quail Hill’s fields. He’s an old family friend who’s been a vegetarian for years, oh sure a little fish, some chicken but when Alec comes to dinner, we always make an effort to include a vegetable center piece on the menu to ensure a full belly for the big man.
To my great surprise it was our other honored guest, Jessica’s friend Karen from Greenwich who raved about this pepper dish in the end. Alec, instead, was crazy for the Shrimp & Scallops in peach ginger sauce.
On my arrival at the farm I ran into Scott Chasky and asked him what I should focus on when harvesting, his suggestion was to focus on the peppers in valley. I found 4 perfect for stuffing and a handful of others with enough color to make a dish pop. In the next row over there were plenty of eggplant and at the stand a handful of garlic.
Ingredients to make stuffed peppers for 8:
4 large bell peppers
5 small colorful peppers (not too hot)
4 medium sized eggplant
5 garlic cloves
5 colorful (mixed) tomatoes, chopped
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 bunch oregano, chopped
1/2 bunch parsley, chopped
3 stems mint, chopped
1 bunch arugula
3 tablespoons butter
1 cup organic brown rice
1 cup wheat berries (Amber Farms from Amagansett)
1 quart chicken stock
1/2 cup bread crumbs
1 cup grated Parmeasan
To start, slice the eggplant into cubes about the size of your thumbnail, chop the garlic and place the rice in a bowl, cover in cold water to soak. Toss the cubes and garlic in olive oil with the colorful peppers, and a few teaspoons of salt and pepper. Now lay the seasoned vegetables on a sheet pan and place it in the oven pre-heated to 375ºF. While the eggplant softens chop and rinse the leeks, place half on the sheet pan with the rest and half in a saute pan with the butter, soften over medium flame.
Next step, slice the peppers from top to bottom and carefully remove the stems and seeds. Now place the wheat berries on a sheet pan dry and set in the oven with the rest, then combine the rice (drained) in a casserole with the leeks and the herbs and season with salt and pepper. When the wheat berries are toasted but not too dark add them to the rice and then top with 1 quart of boiling chicken stock. Top with the split peppers and stuff the peppers with the eggplant from the oven. Follow by topping with arugula and diced tomatoes and return to the oven. At this point I find it helps to turn the oven up to 450ºF for 40 minutes and then return the temperature to 375ºF and top the peppers with a mixture of bread crumbs and Parmesan cheese. When the cheese begins to brown the dish should be ready. Test the rice before serving. Not a problem to leave in the warm (turned off) oven for up to 30 minutes while grilling any accompaniments.