A while back, a colleague asked me whether I had a rice cooker. Indeed I do, and it is one of my favorite kitchen appliances, because it is a pot that doesn’t need to be watched. Pour in rice, add water and a little salt, cover the pot and turn it on. Walk away and twenty minutes later you have fluffy steamed rice—nothing sticks, nothing boils over, and the rice stays warm until serving time.
Cooked rice is a terrific building block for so many quick dinners. Make fried rice, turn it into a main-course salad, add it to a filling for burritos, or combine it with some pantry staples and stuff it into peppers as I have done here. Remember, one cup of uncooked rice yields three cups of cooked rice, plenty for a family of four. Double the quantity next time you make rice and you’re almost ready for another meal.
6 medium red or yellow bell peppers
2 cups cooked rice
1 (15-ounce) can black beans rinsed and drained
1 cup corn kernels fresh or frozen
½ cup cilantro chopped
2 tablespoons oil
3 cloves garlic minced
1 onion diced
1 large poblano chile seeded and diced
1½ teaspoons salt
1 tablespoon ground cumin
¼ teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon hot pepper sauce or to taste
1 cup (4 ounces) Monterey Jack cheese grated
Heat the oven to 375 degrees. Halve the bell peppers lengthwise, remove the core and scrape out the seeds. Place cut side up on a rimmed baking sheet.
In a large bowl, mix together the rice, black beans, corn, and cilantro.
Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the garlic, onion, and chile and cook until softened but not brown, about 5 minutes. Lower the heat if the vegetables are browning. Add the salt, cumin, turmeric, and paprika to the pan. Stir continuously until the spices are fragrant, about 1 minute. Remove from the heat and stir in the hot pepper sauce. Add this to the rice mixture in the bowl. Stir to thoroughly combine. Taste and adjust seasonings, if desired. Pack this mixture into the pepper halves. Top with the grated cheese.
Bake the peppers, uncovered, until tender when pierced with a knife, about 30 to 35 minutes. Place two halves on each dinner plate and serve immediately.