Monday, June 20, 2011

Stuffed Bell Peppers, Vegan Style

I've become a working girl, and my work schedule these days is Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. When I come home, I'm tired and just want to chill for a bit. Unfortunately I'm not as organized as I wish I was in the meal department. In fact, instead of having a menu plan, I just go to the store and buy a gazillion vegetables and know that I'll be able to create something good out of them. But it takes some pretty quick scrambling for me to figure it out in a timely manner so that we're not eating at 9 p.m. I know there are families that do that, but ours isn't one of them! I grew up having dinner at 5:30. In fact, if the phone rang during dinnertime, it would make my dad mad. He just didn't understand why people would be so rude as to call right during our dinner hour. Then my mother would remind him that not everybody had dinner that early. I've learned since then that not many folks at all have dinner so early, but I sure wish I was nearly done cooking by that time. That's still a goal of mine.

Now back to the piles of vegetables that I purchase. It kind of makes me chuckle thinking about how many we have stuffed in both of our refrigerators. I think back to a call I overheard several months ago while at work. The School of Natural Healing, where I'm employed, has a call-in hour four days a week where a Master Herbalist answers questions from the general public. Once in awhile I can overhear a comment or two, especially if it's a topic that is particularly charged. One day I heard quite clearly, "Do what Dr. Fuhrman* says. Go to the produce section of the grocery store and anything you can find there, eat that!" That's pretty much what we have going on here at our house. We have become best buddies with the produce sections at every grocery store within 20 miles of us.

So, with this plethora of produce, I have many options as long as I find interesting recipes that tantalize our tastebuds. Tonight my niece, Brooke, posted a link on my Facebook wall for vegetarian stuffed peppers. I took a look at it and thought, "Perfect! I have more than a dozen sweet peppers in the fridge and can adapt this to fit our diet." So I did.

We're not only doing the vegan thing, we're focused even more narrowly, and I'll get to why that is soon. But for now, suffice it to say, I'm not using any legumes or grains (other than brown rice) in our foods. Quinoa (which is a seed, pronounced KEEN wah,) is a great substitute for grains, and sometimes I even prefer it over rice. Tonight it became the "meat" of our meal.

Without further adieu, here's the recipe, from Our Best Bites, and my adaptations. (I'm particularly fond of the author because she makes it clear that you need to choose any colorful pepper besides green. Oh, how I concur! Green peppers were meant to stay in the garden until they ripen; they were never meant for your mouth in that state.)    :-)

Southwest Stuffed Bell Peppers
Adapted from America’s Test Kitchen The original recipe in my opinion has some major flaws, which I have corrected below!

4 very large or 6 medium sweet peppers (red, yellow, or orange)
1 Tbs salt
1/2 C white rice (or  brown if you want to take the time to cook it), quinoa also works
2 Tbs olive oil
1 onion, diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 – 1 jalapeno, minced (or you could sub a small 3oz can of mild green chilies)
1 14oz can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 cup frozen corn kernels
2 green onions, sliced
1/2-1 tsp chipotle chili powder (you can start with 1/2 and add more to taste)
1 tsp kosher salt, plus more to taste
1/4 black pepper, plus more to taste
1 14.5 ounce can diced tomatoes, preferably fire roasted
1 1/4 C jack or pepperjack cheese, divided
3-4 Tbs chopped fresh cilantro
tortilla chips, just a handful and more for serving if desired.

Preheat oven to 350.  Prepare peppers by washing, slicing tops off, and removing insides.  Bring 4 quarts of water to a boil and add 1 tablespoon salt.   Boil whole peppers for about 3-4 minutes, until they begin to soften.  Remove from water with tongs and place on paper towels to drain. Add rice to boiling water and cook until tender, about 13 minutes.  Drain thoroughly.

Heat oil in a 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat.  Add onions, garlic, and jalapeno (or chilies) and cook until softened, about 5 minutes.  Add corn, beans, green onions, chipotle chili powder, kosher salt, and pepper. Stir until corn and beans are heated through, about 5 minutes.  Place peppers in a baking dish.  Remove skillet from heat and add rice, tomatoes, 1 cup cheese, and cilantro.  Stir to combine well and give it a taste.  Add additional salt, pepper, and chipotle powder to your liking.  Then evenly divide mixture between peppers.
Top peppers with remaining 1/4 cup cheese (or more if you can fit it on there :) and crushed tortilla chips.
Bake at 350 for about 30 minutes

We had this with a big green salad with Vegan Ranch Dressing, recipe found here.

My changes: 
I used about half the salt.
I used quinoa instead of rice.
I did not add any beans.
No hot peppers found their way in, but only because I didn't have any handy.
I missed the cilantro (just for you, Colette!) because I couldn't find it quickly enough, Darn!
I used about 3/4 t. of chipotle chili powder and it was perfect for us. Any more and it woulda burned big time.
We had some fake-o pepper jack cheese that I sprinkled on top, maybe 1/3 C. total, none in the filling itself.
I just happened to have Italian diced tomatoes only, so that's what went in. They worked fine.
I did not use any chips and we did not miss them.

When I make it again:
I would add some diced zucchini or other vegetables into the filling. The more you can stuff in there, the better. So that's my plan.

*Dr. Fuhrman is the author of the excellent book Eat to Live. If you really want to know how to reverse disease or stop it from showing up in the first place or lose weight, get that book, read it, and follow his eating plan. You'll be so glad you did!

1 comment:

  1. This was a big hit at our house tonight! It was very satisfying, even for Vaka, and satisfying a Tongan with a meatless meal is really saying something! After eating it, I realized I had some squash on hand and wish I would have thrown it in too! And I do plan to try it with quinoa sometime, or omit the rice and add more beans. However, you really missed out in not having any cilantro. :) Glad it worked out for you!


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