Oklahoma weather never abides by the calendar and while it may be fall, the season for summer squash isn’t over yet. I’ve already decorated my apartment with miniature pumpkins in eager anticipation, but it’s 90 degrees outside and I’m going to eat zucchini and bell peppers while I still can!
I couldn’t resist these cute globe zucchinis when I spotted them at the farmer’s market. I decided to try stuffing them with my new favorite cooked grain, wheat berries. Once cooked, the whole, unprocessed wheat kernels become addictively chewy on the outside and soft on the inside. I also added my homemade basil pesto, crumbled feta and sautéed onions and red pepper. Chickpeas lent some substance and, once baked, echoed the wheat berries’ contrasting chewy/soft textures.
I knew I couldn’t go wrong by mixing together my favorite vegetables and flavors, and these stuffed vegetables were even better than I had hoped. If you come across some beautiful bell peppers or globe zucchinis over the next few weeks, don’t pass them by. We’ll have all winter for butternut!
How to cook wheat berries:
- Measure out one cup of hard red winter wheat berries. Carefully sift through them, removing any debris.
- Pour the wheat berries into a mesh colander and rinse thoroughly under cool water.
- Dump the wheat berries into a pot. Add 3 1/2 cups water and 1/2 teaspoon salt.
- Over high heat, bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat to low and simmer for an hour, stirring occasionally.
- Drain and rinse. Serve hot, or let cool and store in the refrigerator for later. You can also freeze them for up to a month! Source: Eating Well.
- 6 to 7 globe zucchinis and/or bell peppers, sliced in half through the stem
- 2 cups cooked wheat berries (see instructions above).
- 2 cups cooked chickpeas (or about 1 can of chickpeas, rinsed and drained)
- 1/2 cup basil pesto
- 4 oz crumbled feta, which is about 2/3 cup
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/2 cup diced red onion
- 1 small red pepper, chopped
- 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- salt and pepper, to taste
- lemon juice (optional) for drizzling over the vegetables after baking
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and grease a baking sheet or large casserole dish.
- Over medium heat, sautée garlic and onion with a dash of olive oil for a few minutes. Add red pepper and sautée for a few more minutes. I feel that this step brings out the flavor in those ingredients, but you could skip it if you’re short on time.
- In the meantime, use your fingers and a big spoon to scoop out the insides of your halved globe zucchinis and/or bell peppers.
- In a large bowl, mix together the stuffing: wheat berries, chickpeas, pesto, feta and sautéed vegetables. Add salt and pepper to taste. Resist the urge to eat the whole bowl.
- Use a spoon to stuff your vegetables with the mixture. Mound some extra stuffing on top.
- Bake for 22 to 30 minutes, until the sides of the vegetables yield to a gentle squeeze. I baked mine a little too long so I reduced the baking time here.
- To brighten up the flavor, drizzle a bit of fresh lemon juice over the cooked vegetables. Serve and enjoy!