One question I get a lot is, "What's your favorite thing about being a writer/reporter?" Luckily, as questions go, that's an easy one: I love getting to meet new people and hear their stories. I'm always weirdly in the know. I know what buildings are going up in downtown Greenville, what new products might be coming to market, and who are the up and coming people. And I love every second of it.
So when I was assigned an article about prepared foods made in South Carolina for our March issue, well...I think we can all agree that was a good suggestion on my editor's part, no? He's obviously picked up on my quirks pretty quickly.
I spoke with several sources, including a coffee roaster who sent me a bag of coffee, thus ensuring that I make it out of bed to interview another day. I also spoke with a Columbia-based maker of dips and cocktail sauces, and then I spoke with Big T Coastal Provisions. Based in Charleston, Big T makes dips as well, including its signature crab dip that launched the company. I won't share all the details now - stay tuned a couple of months for the article! - but I will say that interviewing the owner made me really, really hungry (Like that's hard. Feel proud).
So as any good (hungry) reporter will do, I asked where I might obtain some of this crab dip in the Upstate, since a trip to Charleston isn't in our immediate future. She said Publix. I went, and I obtained.
Their Web site features recipes using their dips, and the shrimp dip-stuffed red bell peppers sounded out of this world. The Publix in Greenville only sold the crab dip, but I figured we could change it up a little and it would still be good. B was on board as well. I mean, a dip made fresh with 100 percent real crab out of Charleston, mixed with rice and stuffed in roasted red peppers? Who wouldn't love that? Well, maybe my mom, but that's a whole other story. :)
Anyway, the ingredient list is super-short and preparation is minimal. You have to wait for the rice to cook, and then for the peppers to bake, but it's not a lot of difficult, hands-on work. These would be fantastic for a dinner party - incredibly impressive-looking but simple to prepare. You could even have the rice made ahead of time so all you have to do is mix it with the dip and stuff the peppers and bake. They could also be a side dish, but I think they're incredibly decadent as a main course.
If you don't live in South Carolina, you can order directly from Big T Coastal Provisions' Web site, and I highly suggest you do. Even if you don't put it in peppers, the dip itself is divine. After I put the dip in the rice to mix up, I caught B licking the empty container - yes, just like Luna licks the empty peanut butter jars. It's that good. If you do make the peppers, they're delicious and so easy. Plus, they reheat well, making great leftovers - always a big consideration for us. I couldn't be more pleased with this recipe and will definitely be making it again. We hope you enjoy it as much as we did!
E & B
Crab dip-stuffed red bell peppers
1 8-ounce container Big T Coastal Provisions crab dip
6 red bell peppers
1 cup uncooked basmati rice, cooked (so about 3 cups rice total, since rice triples in size)
Chopped fresh parsley (we omitted this because I hate parsley)
Salt and pepper
Cook the rice according to package directions, generally one cup of rice to two cups of water.
Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.
Cut the tops off the peppers and remove as much of the pith and seeds as you can. If the peppers won't sit flat, trim the bottom until they will.
Place peppers in a lightly oiled glass baking dish (we used aluminum foil for easy clean-up).
Gently stir the dip with the rice, adding salt and pepper to taste. Don't overmix.
Stuff the mixture into the peppers, being careful not to overstuff. The crab mixture should be even with the top of the peppers.
Bake the peppers for 30 minutes or until the cheese in the crab dip is bubbling.
Eat, and feel proud of yourself for supporting a local food producer who doesn't use preservatives or filler crap in their products.
Based on my calculations (always a dangerous notion), these are about 286 calories apiece. We served ours with some roasted Brussels sprouts, and it was a divine meal.