Jack O Lantern stuffed capsicums make a wonderful Halloween family meal. They are also an easy Halloween entertaining idea.
Halloween doesn't have to be just about sweet treats. You can spook up a healthy dinner as well. These Jack O Lantern capsicums are both spooky and healthy. They would make any little ghoul or goblin very happy, even big ones too.
All Hallow's Eve or Halloween is generally thought of as an American celebration, that we still don't get too wound up in here in Australia. 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.
It was only when I got married that I discovered Halloween didn't originate in the USA. It's a big deal in Ireland. The origin of All Hallow's Eve was Celtic speaking countries. 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.
The beauty of this recipe is that it contains hidden veggies. Yes, the capsicum is very evident, but along with the mince in the filling, there are veggies hidden away. 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.
If making these for kids, use smaller capsicums as they are incredibly filling. Alternatively, stab you Jack O' Lantern in half and share.
Special equipment for this recipe
None at all. A baking dish and oven is all that is required. A paring knife if you have one (if not worth investing in) is ideal to cut out the Jack O Lantern features on the capsicum.
Special Ingredients for this Recipe
If you can't find yellow capsicums/peppers use red ones. They will look a little more demonic than Jack O Lantern, but that's all good, it's Halloween after all.
What to do with any leftovers
Any leftover filling makes a great pasta sauce. The filling freezes brilliantly too. Store whole Jack O Lantern stuffed capsicums in an airtight container in the fridge. They are perfect for lunch the next day.
Jack O' Lantern Stuffed Capsicums
- 4-6 yellow or orange capsicums
- 8 teaspoons olive oil
- 1 brown onion medium, finely diced
- 500 grams minced chicken breast
- 1 carrot medium, grated
- 2 sticks celery finely diced
- 200 grams mushrooms finely diced
- 400 grams tin diced tomatoes
- 2 garlic cloves finely diced
- 8 teaspoons 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.
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