All Hallow’s Eve or Halloween, generally thought of as an American celebration thrust on us Aussies. Indeed when I was growing up, Halloween existed only through my television set, on shows such as The Brady Bunch or some other popular American show at the time.
When I got married, only then did I realise that Halloween isn’t just celebrated in America nor did it originate there. In fact it’s a big deal in Ireland. It was originally from these Celtic speaking countries that All Hallow’s Eve originated. It is believed that the festival was originally influenced by Celtic harvest festivals and festivals celebrating the dead. Halloween was only introduced to Northern America in the 19th Century when there was a mass Irish and Scottish immigration.
Halloween doesn’t have to be just about sweet treats. You can spook up a healthy dinner as well. These capsicums (or peppers for my American readers), and both spooky and healthy and would make any little ghoul or goblin very happy, even big ones too.
The beauty of this recipe is that it contains hidden vegies. Yes the capsicum is very evident, but along with the mince in the filling there are vegies. You can cut down on the amount of mince you use and add more vegies if you desire. Zucchini would be a great addition. I have chosen to use lean chicken breast mince, but you could use beef or pork. Want to make it vegetarian? Omit the meat and substitute rice, or finely diced firm tofu. It’s a versatile dish the variations are endless.
- 4-6 yellow or orange capsicums
- 2T olive oil
- 1 brown onion, medium, finely diced
- 500g minced chicken breast
- 1 carrot, medium, grated
- 2 sticks celery, finely diced
- 200g mushrooms, finely diced
- 400g tin diced tomatoes
- 2 garlic cloves, finely diced
- 2Tbs tomato paste
- 2 dried bay leaves
- Salt & Pepper
- ½ bunch basil (reserved some leaves to go inside the capsicum to cover the eye and mouth holes)
- In a large heavy based pot (with a lid), heat oil and sauté onions until translucent.
- Add chicken mince, cook until broken up and browned. Then add in carrot, celery and mushrooms. Cook stirring for 5 minutes.
- Then add tin tomatoes, tomato paste and bay leaves. Take your tomato tin and fill with water, add the water to the pot. Stir well and add salt and pepper to taste.
- Cover with the lid and simmer on a very low heat for around an hour. Give the pot a stir every so often to make sure nothing is sticking and that your heat isn't too high.
- While your filling is cooking wash and dry your capsicums. Carefully cut the tops off and set them aside.
- Using a small sharp knife, cut desired Jack O' Lantern faced in to your capsicums.
- Place them in a baking tray lined with baking paper. (makes cleaning up easier & prevents them sticking on the bottom).
- Once filling is ready, carefully remove bay leaves and stir through chopped up basil. Check seasoning and adjust if necessary.
- Place reserved basil leaves on the inside of the capsicums covering eye and mouth holes.
- Carefully spoon in your filling and place the capsicum tops back on.
- Bake in a moderate oven 180 degC/350 degF for 30 minutes.
- Serve on top of rice or noodles.
Any left over filling makes a great pasta sauce. The filling freezes brilliantly too.
Do tell dear Belly Rumbles’ reader, do you celebrate Halloween?