Didn’t grow up with stuffed peppers? Here’s a quick 101: hollowed-out bell peppers are filled with a combination of protein, grains, vegetables, and spices. Of course, that doesn’t quite sum up how delicious and, for some, nostalgia-inducing they are. This veggie version happens to be extra special. The filling starts with Tunisian-spiced jasmine rice (think turmeric, cinnamon, and smoked paprika) that’s then bejeweled with dried apricots, crispy chickpeas, and salty feta. Prepare for a flavor explosion.
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Tunisian Spice Blend
Adjust rack to middle position and preheat oven to 425 degrees. Wash and dry all produce. Halve bell peppers lengthwise; remove stems and seeds. Trim and thinly slice scallions, separating whites from greens. Roughly chop apricots, if necessary. In a small bowl, combine sour cream, ¼ tsp Tunisian Spice (½ tsp for 4 servings; you’ll use more in step 2), and salt. Stir in water 1 tsp at a time until mixture reaches a drizzling consistency.
In a small pot, combine rice, apricots, ¾ cup water (1½ cups for 4 servings), half the remaining Tunisian Spice (you’ll use the rest later), and a big pinch of salt. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, then cover and reduce to a low simmer. Cook until rice is tender, 15-18 minutes. Keep covered off heat until ready to use.
While rice cooks, place bell pepper halves on a baking sheet and drizzle each with olive oil; rub to coat. Season generously with salt and pepper, then arrange cut sides up. Roast on middle rack until slightly softened, 15-17 minutes (you’ll stuff them then). Remove from oven to cool slightly.
Meanwhile, drain and rinse chickpeas; pat as dry as possible with paper towels. Heat a large drizzle of olive oil in a large, preferably nonstick, pan over medium-high heat. Add chickpeas, scallion whites, remaining Tunisian Spice, and a big pinch of salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until chickpeas are lightly browned, 3-4 minutes. (TIP: It’s natural for chickpeas to pop a bit.) Turn off heat.
Fluff rice with a fork. Stir into pan with chickpeas along with ¾ of the feta and 2 TBSP butter (3 TBSP for 4 servings). Season generously with salt. Stuff each bell pepper half with as much filling as will fit. Return baking sheet to oven until stuffed peppers are tender, 5-7 minutes. Cover pan with remaining filling to keep warm.
Divide remaining filling between plates; top with stuffed peppers. Drizzle with spiced crema. Sprinkle with scallion greens and remaining feta. Serve.