Updated: Oct 19, 2022
4 large orange bell peppers
4 medium cloves garlic, smashed and peeled
2 bay leaves
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 ¾ teaspoons fine sea salt, divided
Freshly ground black pepper
5 cups water
1 cup brown* basmati rice (regular, not quick-cooking), rinsed and drained
1 cup regular brown or green lentils**, picked over for debris, rinsed and drained
⅓ cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 tablespoon of miso paste any color
2 medium-to-large yellow onions, halved and thinly sliced
½ cup thinly sliced green onions (from 1 bunch), divided
½ cup chopped fresh cilantro
Plain whole-milk or Greek yogurt, for serving
Spicy sauce, for serving (optional): chili-garlic sauce or even sriracha.
Pre-heat oven to 350℉
Cut off the tops of bell peppers and keep them intact; scoop out seeds. With a sharp paring knife, cut out a jack-o'-lantern face on one side of each pepper. Set to the side on baking pan. If they don't sit up well on their own very slightly trim the bottoms but avoid cutting a hole in the base.
In a large Dutch oven or soup pot, combine the garlic, bay leaves, cumin, miso, 1 ½ teaspoons of the salt and about 20 twists of freshly ground black pepper. Add the water and bring the mixture to a boil over medium-high heat.
Once boiling, stir in the rice and reduce the heat to medium. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally and adjusting the heat as necessary to maintain a controlled simmer, for 10 minutes.
Stir in the lentils and let the mixture return to a simmer. Cover again, reduce the heat to medium-low, and cook until the liquid is absorbed and the rice and lentils are tender, about 20 to 23 minutes.
Meanwhile, warm the olive oil in a large (12-inch) skillet over medium-high heat. When it’s warm enough that a slice of onion sizzles on contact, add the remaining onions. Stir to combine.
Stir only every 3 minutes or so at first, then more often once the onions at the edges of the pan start browning. If the onions are browning before they have softened, dial down the heat to give them more time. Cook until the onions are deeply caramelized and starting to crisp at the edges, about 20 to 30 minutes. In the meantime, line a large plate or cutting board with a couple paper towels.
Using a slotted spoon or fish spatula, transfer the onions to the lined plate and spread them evenly across. Sprinkle the remaining ¼ teaspoon salt over the onions. They’ll crisp up as they cool.
When the lentils and rice are done cooking, drain off any excess water (if there is any) and return the mixture to the pot, off the heat.
Remove the lid, discard the bay leaves, and smash the garlic cloves against the side of the pan with a fork.
Transfer the rice and lentil mixture into peppers. Place the lids back on.
Put peppers in the oven and let bake for 15 mins. or until they start to look soft to the touch
Top with the caramelized onions, the green onions, cilantro. Squeeze a little sriacha on for bloody dramatics.
Serve hot, warm or at room temperature, with yogurt and spicy sauce (optional) on the side.