These Moroccan Stuffed Romano Peppers are super-simple to make, but incredibly tasty, with harissa-braised chickpeas and lemony giant couscous.
Sweet, roasted romano peppers, lemony giant couscous and harissa-braised chickpeas... these Moroccan Stuffed Peppers make a surprisingly simple supper that looks great and tastes even better.
Stuffed peppers are such a vegan cliché aren't they? I must admit that my heart sinks when I go to a restaurant and they are the only vegan option... often stuffed with dry and flavourless rice or cous cous.
But fear not.... these little beauties are a long way from that. Fragrant harissa, zingy lemon and fresh coriander mean they are packed with the flavours of Marrakesh. And what's more, they are easy to make too.
What you need to make your stuffed Romano Peppers
Romano peppers are the long, pointy ones now quite widely available in supermarkets. They work well for these stuffed peppers because their flesh is quite a bit thinner than a standard pepper, so they can be roasted quickly without turning soggy, but hold their shape. But of course you could use standard peppers if that's what you have to hand, just roast them for a little longer than the recipe suggests.
US readers might know Romano Peppers better as Ramiro peppers or Sweet Pointed peppers.
Giant couscous Do remember that there's a big difference (quite literally!) between couscous and giant couscous - the former can be cooked just by soaking in boiling water or stock, but the latter needs boiling in a saucepan like rice or pasta.
If you can't get hold of giant couscous, it is fine to use standard couscous instead, BUT please don't follow the recipe instructions or you'll end up with a sticky, soggy mess (as some of my recipe testers realised!). Just follow the cooking instructions on the packet then add the lemon, olive oil and baby spinach.
Tinned chickpeas I hardly ever soak and boil my own chickpeas as tinned ones are just so good. Rinse them well before using.
Harissa paste Harissa is one of those ingredients that immediately transports my tastebuds for a mooch around Marrakesh. I actually used Rose Harissa* which is even better, fragrant and exotic, but the 'normal' stuff is fab too, so do use whatever is lurking in your cupboard.
Lemon A zing of fresh lemon makes such a difference to this recipe. If you like, you could use two preserved lemons, finely chopped, instead (or as well as!) for a really authentic Moroccan flavour.
Fresh coriander The final flourish - a really lovely fresh herb. You could add a little fresh mint too if you like.
Variations on your Moroccan Stuffed Romano Peppers
As an afterthought, looking at the pictures, I should have included some orange-juice soaked raisins to the couscous for an extra Moroccan twist - why not give it a go?
Or if you find stuffing the pepper halves too much of a faff, you could slice the peppers before roasting, then just toss everything together and serve it as a couscous dish instead, or even a side salad for a BBQ or Moroccan feast.
For more quick and easy vegan recipes take a look at my latest book Vegan in 15.
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Moroccan Stuffed Romano Peppers
- 4 romano peppers
- 1 teaspoon vegetable stock powder
- 100 g wholewheat giant couscous
- 1 lemon
- 2 tablespoon olive oil
- handful baby spinach
- ½ red onion
- 400 g tinned chickpeas
- 1 tablespoon tomato purée
- 1 tablespoon harissa paste (or rose harissa)
- 200 ml boiling water
- 1 teaspoon stock powder
- fresh coriander
- Preheat the oven to 180ºC / 350ºF / Gas Mark 4. Halve the peppers lengthways, brush with a little oil and place on a baking tray. Roast them for 10 minutes or until softened but still holding their shape.
- Meanwhile, bring a small saucepan of water to the boil with the stock powder. Tip in the giant couscous and boil for 6-8 minutes until just cooked through.
- Drain and return it to the saucepan, the squeeze over the juice of the lemon, and add the 2 tablespoon olive oil and baby spinach leaves. Stir well and season well with salt and black pepper.
- Heat a little oil in a frying pan, peel and finely chop the red onion and add to the pan. Cook for 3-4 minutes, then drain and rinse the chickpeas and add them to the pan, along with the tomato purée, harissa paste, boiling water and stock powder.
- Bring to the boil then simmer for 5 minutes or until the liquid has reduced to a thick, sticky sauce. Taste and season as required.
- To assemble, pile the giant couscous into the pepper halves, then top with the chickpeas. Return to the oven for 3-4 minutes to heat through, finely chop the coriander and sprinkle over the peppers, then serve immediately.