When I started blogging, I seriously had no idea what would come out of it. I just knew that I really liked to cook, especially for my husband who, as it turns out, solely blames me for his having gained 7 kilos within 6 months of our marriage! And if I got lost in the big sea of food bloggers out there and no one even gave me a second glance, I knew for sure that at least my mom would read it! A year and a half in and here I am, with a spanking new self-hosted blog and the works! Although I’m still quite unsure about the direction I’d like to take this in, I can very gladly say that I’m enjoying every minute of it.
On the same note, I can’t think of a better recipe post for my new blog than this one. I don’t mean to unabashedly toot my own horn when I say this, but this recipe happens to be my very own. I have, of course eaten it before but when I decided to try my hand at making it, I was pretty confident that it would work (says the same person who thought Sriracha and fresh mangoes would work too..don’t go there).
The peppers need roasting, the tomato sauce is my basic go-to that we use on everything from pasta to fried eggs, and the paneer encased and baked in the peppers gets melting and gooey. All this sounds time consuming I know, but it’s actually very easy to put together (especially if you’re like me and always have a batch of tomato sauce on hand). Hardly any effort, but big big reward.
- 6 banana peppers
- 200 grams fresh paneer (cottage cheese)
- 50 grams cheese, grated (any melting cheese will do)
- 5 large tomatoes / ½ can of chopped tomatoes
- 1 onion, finely chopped
- 5 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
- ¾ tsp oregano
- ¾ tsp chilli flakes
- ½ tsp sugar
- 2 tbsp olive oil (plus 2 tbsp for roasting the peppers)
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Tortillas, to serve with (optional)
- First make the tomato sauce : If you’re using fresh tomatoes - bring a pot of water to the boil and drop the tomatoes into it. After a few minutes you’ll start to notice their skins coming off. Drain, peel back their skins completely and purée them in a blender.
- Heat olive oil in a pot and add the chopped onions and garlic. Once lightly browned, tip in the tomatoes, chilli flakes, oregano, sugar, pepper, and salt. Bring it up to the boil, then simmer for 15-20 minutes stirring occasionally until it has thickened. Taste and adjust the seasoning. Take off the heat and set aside.
- To prepare the banana peppers (flame roasted method - recommended) : Roast the peppers on an open flame, making sure to turn them around constantly with tongs. You want them to be almost blackened and charred on all sides. Quickly pop the pepper into a zip-lock bag before you continue with the rest.
- Once all the peppers are roasted and in the bag, let it sit for 5 minutes, by which time the skins will have softened. Take them out one by one and peel back their skins using your fingers. Gently remove the seeds and outer membrane, making sure to keep the peppers intact.
- To prepare the peppers (oven roasted) : Remove the stalks and slit lengthwise on one side (essentially opening it up flat, NOT halving into two pieces). Remove and discard the seeds and white membrane from the inside using your fingers (please wear gloves for this step, I learnt it the hard way).
- Lay them out on a baking tray, drizzle over 2 tbsp olive oil and roast in a preheated 180 C (360 F) oven for 15 - 20 minutes, or until they just start to soften. Remove and set aside to cool slightly, before peeling back the outer skins. Discard the skins.
- Crumble the paneer into fine pieces in a blender and season with salt and pepper. Once the peppers are cool enough to handle, stuff them with the paneer and lay them on a single layer in your baking dish. Pour the tomato sauce on top of the peppers and sprinkle over the grated cheese.
- Bake in a preheated 160 C (320 F) oven for 15 - 20 minutes or until the tomato sauce is bubbling, and the cheese is fully melted. Serve with warm tortillas to be eaten like a wrap, or just as is.