One of the my favorite things about immersing myself in narratives of another world (whether playing a character in Augur’s Lore or watching Game of Thrones) is imagining the foods people eat. Some of these regional dishes and specialties might not sound familiar, or might sound straight up unappetizing in some cases, but many aren’t so far off from what we in our world know and enjoy.
Seven courses were served, in honor of the seven gods and the seven brothers of the Kingsguard. The soup was made with eggs and lemons, the long green peppers stuffed with cheese and onions.
– A Dance with Dragons, George R.R. Martin
Long green peppers stuffed with cheese and onions. Easy. And not so far off from what you’d see on a pub menu or at a superbowl party (right? I don’t go to superbowl parties, but the internet tells me they’re a thing.) For a “fantasy” fiction-inspired recipe, this one’s pretty darn familiar, and I find something really special there. Sometimes the most mundane details bridge the grandest gaps.
Making these peppers–conceiving of them, crafting them–was an immersive experience, too. Instead of cutting the peppers into polite little boats, like I usually do, I gave each of the peppers unique (and perhaps, on reflection, embarrassingly brutal) “deaths” that seemed only appropriate for a Game of Thrones recipe. Decapitation for one, disembowelment for another, a slow flaying for another. Um, before I continue, so if you’re squeamish or find this level of dedicated nerdery distasteful (what are you doing here?), be assured you can swiftly scroll down for the recipe. Rated PG.
As I stuffed the peppers with their filling, I imagined the cooks in the kitchens preparing grand feasts for tens and hundreds of mouths. So many peppers to stuff. It’s a meditative task, for them and for me. I remembered then, portioning meat for sandwiches at my first job at a local sub shop. Every one of my coworkers hated the task for its monotony, but it was one of my favorites. One job. Do it. Do it well. Do it better. Hands and mind attune to the weight of a handful, shifting the scale from the dynamic authority to the outgrown, static reference. I was vegetarian at the time, handling meat that other people would eat, yeah, but it wasn’t about that. It was a strange song I liked to sing. I still do.
Several hours elapsed between my prepping the peppers and being able to bake and photograph them, so by the time they came out of the oven, my pleasantly soft daylight had long fled to another part of the world and left harsh, burning sunlight in its wake. It was all grumbles until I saw the perfect symbolism that had lined itself up right in front of my face: the ruling house of Dorne, where these peppers were served, has a blazing sun pierced by a spear for their sigil. Sharp-edged sunlight. Angels sung in that moment of realization. Or I did. Our voices are easy to mix up.
About the filling: I kept it simple. No breadcrumbs necessary, no eggs, no bacon, et cetera. Cheese and onions are the stars here, livened up with a handful of fresh herbs and fragrant cumin. I used my trusty sunflower seed cheese for a perfect balance of rich and light, but feel free to use dairy cheese if that’s more convenient or appealing–the beauty of this formula is that you can interchange cheese/cream cheese/plant cheese 1:1 and basically end up with something great.
And I have it on good authority (mine) that these would be damn lovely washed down with a little honeyed watered wine…
- 4-5 poblano peppers (or 8-12 jalapenos)
- 1 scant cup sunflower seed cheese, shredded montery jack cheese, or Daiya shreds
- ¼ cup minced onion or scallions
- ¼ cup finely chopped, fresh cilantro
- 1½ tsp ground cumin seed
- 1 tsp dried oregano, optional
- olive oil as needed for consistency (not necessary if using dairy cheese)
- salt to taste
- Preheat oven to 375F.
- In a good-sized bowl, mix cheese, onion, cilantro, cumin, and oregano if using. Season with salt to taste.
- Cut peppers however you want--longways makes a nice, stuffable boat you can pick up and eat with your hands; cutting off the caps and stuffing the peppers whole is attractive, but a little fussier.
- Stuff peppers with filling.
- Bake for 20-25 minutes until peppers have softened and browned. Cook longer for softer, smushier peppers to eat with a fork, or cook a little less for finger-food style peppers. Serve with honeyed watered wine.
If using sunflower seed cheese or another nut pulp cheese, you can add a little olive oil to the filling for a rich, luscious consistency. If using plant cheese or dairy cheese, that won't be necessary.
I have a feeling these would be incredible (and appropriately Dornish sexy) with caramelized shallots in place of the onion, or even in addition to it--I'd probably put them on top of the peppers as they bake so they get a little browned.