I have made these bell peppers stuffed with orzo, veggies and feta many time before, but decided to put a little Halloween twist this time around by carving each pepper as a jack-o-lantern!
Now, I can’t claim credit for this creative adaptation – as with most cute and crafty things, it was something I saw on pinterest. I made these last year for Halloween dinner and they turned out so cute, so I knew I had to share them on the blog this year.
And since we’re reminiscing about Halloweens past, I thought I would use this blog post to share about Halloween in Sweden (or the lack there of). In some ways, this is just a continuation of my last post about how much I love and miss fall in the US… because the epitome of fall is Halloween…. which is probably why it’s my favorite holiday!
One of my favorite parts about Halloween is that everyone – adults, kids, men, women – can spend one day being silly and dressed up. I love seeing the creative adult costumes based on current events/pop culture (I wonder how many SNL “Spicy” costumes there will be tomorrow?) and the adorable kids dressed up in the year’s most popular Disney movie character (maybe Moana this year?). I remember going to the bars back in college and being packed like sardines next to a full-on zombie, the good witch of the north (from Oz), and a Mario sitting in his race car (complete with helium balloons attached to the back). Everyone is dressed as something other than themselves, and everyone is having a blast.
So, you can imagine my excitement to be invited to a Halloween party during my first Halloween in Sweden. My cousin and his girlfriend were in town from the US, so all of us ran around Stockholm getting our costumes together… a basketball player, a candy corn, a lady bug, and a cat (if you read my blog enough, you can probably guess which one I was!). We spent the evening getting our costumes ready and headed out to the subway. When we got there, I was a little surprised to see that the subway was packed, but not a single person had any resemblance of a costume on… not even simple ears or a Halloween themed shirt. This really should have been our first clue….
When we arrived at the party, we were once again the only ones in costume. Granted, my Swedish cousin and his American girlfriend had costumes with them, but had taken them off before we got there (don’t worry, we convinced them to put them back on!). This was not an embarrassing experience at all… just surprising. In my mind, a Halloween party meant you pretty much had to dress up or you were not going to be let in… at least that’s how it would have been in the US.
Since this experience I have learned a few things about Halloween in Sweden. First, it is sort of celebrated, but mostly just by children. I have started substitute teaching at a school in Stockholm and was excited that on Friday all the kids (and some of the teachers) came dressed up! And last year we also got TWO trick-or-treaters (funny enough, that’s more than we would usually get in our Seattle-area home) in our little neighborhood, which made me so happy. But there were no adult costumes to be found… again, Halloween in Sweden seems like it is mostly just for kids.
Second, Halloween costumes in Sweden are mostly scary ones. Lots of zombies, witches, grim reapers… not so many Moanas or Marios. I’m not sure why this is… and it’s not necessarily a bad thing… just different.
To be fair, Halloween in Sweden is a very recent addition, only starting to be celebrated around the 1990s from American cultural influences. My hope is with time, the love for Halloween will only continue to grow in my new home country (maybe with a little nudging from me!). Until then, I’ll still dress up in cute costumes even as an adult, still hand out trick-or-treat candy, and still make themed dinners on Halloween :).
So, here it is…. my Halloween recipe to show that I will continue to celebrate Halloween with the same enthusiasm as when I lived in the US. I have labeled this recipe as main course, but really it is probably more of a side dish (although you can totally pile on the feta cheese and call it a meal like I did last week!). If you need other ideas of mains or sides to go with this Halloween meal, this a great list of spooky themed foods. I also saw someone made meat loaf shaped like a foot (aka: feet loaf!) which I think would go really well with this recipe :).
I usually just make the filling with asparagus and cherry tomatoes, but to add a bit of a fall flair to it, I added in sweet potatoes this time. It was a great decision!
The lemony dressing makes this a refreshing meal, while the feta on top makes sure your tummy feels full afterwards. It’s really the perfect combination of ingredients.
With that, I wish you all a HAPPY HALLOWEEN and hope that you have a wonderful time celebrating wherever you are.
Halloween Orzo, Veggie, and Feta Stuffed Peppers
- 1½ cups orzo / 3.5 dl risoni
- 10+ cherry tomatoes / körsbärstomater
- 10+ stalks asparagus / sparris
- ½ sweet potato / sötpotatis
- ¼ cup olive oil / 0.6 dl olivolja
- ½ lemon / citron
- 1 (small) clove garlic / vitlök
- salt and pepper
- feta cheese / fetaost
- 10+ bell peppers / paprika
- Preheat the oven to 400° F / 200° C.
- Cut the asparagus and sweet potato into ½ inch pieces, and the cherry tomatoes into quarters – set aside (separated).
- Place cut sweet potatoes with a sprinkle of olive oil and salt on a foil lined baking sheet, and bake in the pre-heated oven for 12-15 minutes.
- Bring a pot of water to a boil and cook the orzo according to package directions.
- When there is a about 2 minutes left of the orzo cooking, add the asparagus pieces to the boiling water.
- Drain and rinse the orzo/asparagus under cold water for a minute or two to stop the cooking.
- Whisk together the olive oil with pressed garlic and the zest and juice from half a lemon – add salt and pepper to taste.
- Combine the orzo, asparagus, cherry tomatoes, and sweet potatoes, then drizzle with the lemon dressing and stir until everything is coated.
- Cut the tops off of each bell pepper and scoop out all the seeds – cut out jack-o-lantern faces (if you want).
- Fill each bell pepper with the orzo mixture and top with a generous amount of feta.
- Bake the peppers on a foil-lined baking sheet in pre-heated oven for 10-13 minutes.