Take-out has many definitions. To us, it usually means pizza or fast food like burgers and fries. But despite the globalization of our culture across the Atlantic, Europeans still enjoy takeout that includes local dishes as well as American fast food.

Parisians can still pick up a complete dinner at the local traiteur, neighborhood shops that sell a whole roasted chicken, or the traditional stew called Beef Bourguignon, or crisp green beans almandine. Most American supermarkets offer equally honest, prepared food, but you have to be careful of high-fat items and supersized portions.

Some French cities have crperies that serve paper-thin, filled pancakes. The way they fill, fold and package them for takeout is as skillful as the centuries-old art of making a tender crpe. Here in America, some specialty markets sell plain crepes, vacuum-packed, ready to heat and fill. Warm them like a tortilla, in a dry pan, and fill, perhaps with a slice of low-fat ham and leftover cooked spinach, a combination that is trs Franais.

Further south, in Greece and Italy, stuffed vegetables are a popular takeout. They include whole tomatoes and onions as well as peppers. Usually filled with rice seasoned with fresh herbs, they may also contain chopped tomatoes, raisins, or chopped meat.

Here in America, food shops featuring Mediterranean cooking offer these colorful, stuffed vegetables. Or you can make them at home, ahead of time, so they are waiting to be reheated for dinner, as delicious as if they were delivered from the Greek taverna you wish was around the corner.

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Greek Stuffed Vegetables

Makes 6 main-course or 12 side-dish servings.

  • 3/4 cups short-grain brown rice, rinsed and drained (or 1 1/2 cups long-grain brown rice)
  • 6 small green bell peppers
  • 6 small tomatoes
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped, about 1 cup
  • 1/3 cup snipped fresh dill
  • 1/3 cup finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 1/4 cup feta cheese, crumbled
  • 1 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1 cup fat-free, reduced-sodium chicken broth
  1. Cook rice according to package directions. Turn rice into mixing bowl and let sit 15 minutes to cool slightly. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Slice tops off peppers and tomatoes and set tops aside. Remove seeds and membranes from peppers. Using a melon baller or small spoon, scoop out tomato flesh and reserve. Discard seeds from tomato flesh and chop the meat into 1/4-inch pieces.
  3. Add tomato, onion, dill, parsley and cheese to rice. Use a fork to mix together, taking care not to mush rice or cheese. Mix lemon juice into rice, and season to taste with salt and pepper.
  4. Stuff peppers and tomato shells loosely with rice mixture, using about 1/2 cup each. Arrange stuffed vegetables in a baking dish just large enough to hold them (9x13-inch or bigger). Replace tops on stuffed tomatoes and peppers. Pour chicken broth into pan. Bake about 1 1/4 hours, until vegetables are soft but still hold their shape.
  5. Serve lukewarm or at room temperature. Vegetables are best when made the day they are served, as rice turns hard when refrigerated.

Nutritional Information Per Serving:
152 calories,
2 g. total fat (1 g. saturated fat),
30 g. carbohydrate,
5 g. protein,
4 g. dietary fiber,
178 mg. sodium

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