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Friday, 11 November 2011

Iceland Ready To Cook Mediterranean Stuffed Peppers

Let this be a cautionary tale. There are some things that can only ever be made fresh, and certain types of vegetable should never, under any circumstances, be frozen.

Although, technically, they're fruit... because they contain seeds within a soft, juicy outer body.

But let's not get sidetracked by semantics... Leave that for another blog.

I have to say that, when I first set eyes on these, my first thought was "why bother? Something like that would be so easy to throw together from scratch." Basically, what this package contains is half a red pepper and half a yellow pepper, each containing slices or chunks of tomato, potato, onion, green pepper, garlic, carrot and pineapple, along with 'Mediterranean seasoning' and rice (of the white and 'glutinous' varieties). There some kind of 'sauce' thing going on, because the end result is fairly moist and sticky - moreso than one would expect from just mixing all of those veg together with a simple seasoning. Maybe I'm wrong... perhaps I'll have to try it...

In theory, I knew what to expect - the stuffed peppers should have been fairly sweet, on balance, but with a sharp, savoury edge to keep things interesting.

What I actually got, after 25 minutes in the oven, was one of the worst snacking experiences I've thusfar had. Imagine, if you will, a flavour that is equal parts vegetable melange and washing up liquid. Bitter doesn't begin to describe it.

I'm going to blame this entirely on freezing... Freezing, except when done incredibly quickly, increases the amount of water in a product and, when you're talking about peppers, than can only be a bad thing. Freezing will also damage 'meat' of a pepper, making the end result softer and more fragile than it would have been made fresh. Green pepper in particular is a difficult flavour to freeze. The bitterest of the family already, that bitterness is generally the only thing to survive the freezing process, and is often amplified along the way.

Then there's the rice... Very rarely does that come out well from frozen. Personally, I almost never use anything but those handy microwave sachets of rice, because they're so convenient. I've tried rice from frozen, and it ends up either too dry or too glutinous. The rice in this product falls into the latter category.

My only other complaint would be the size of the portions: what the packaging describes as 'pepper halves' seemed far more like thirds. They were shallow and saggy, far moreso than one would expect from a true half, though I realise some of this could be another side-effect of the freezing process.

Overall, I can't recommend trying these... but they did make me want to try making something similar from scratch.

Now if only I could figure out what makes a 'Mediterranean seasoning'...

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