Monday, October 22, 2012

Stuffed bell peppers

Originally this was a way to get beans into my diet, but few of the recipes I found actually contained beans. Here is the most delicious recipe I've discovered and one I made last week, from Cooking Light:

Vegetarian Stuffed Peppers
This recipe for stuffed peppers trades in the meat in favor of vegetables like red bell peppers, shallots, and mushrooms. The blend of flavors is sure to please guests.

Yield: 6 servings (serving size: 1 stuffed pepper)

  • 6 medium red bell peppers
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 3/4 cup finely chopped shallots
  • 4 cups chopped mushrooms
  • 1 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 1/4 cup slivered almonds, toasted
  • 3 tablespoons dry sherry
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ancho chile powder
  • 2 1/2 cups hot cooked brown rice
  • 1 cup tomato juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder (or substitute 4 minced cloves)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup (1 ounce) grated fresh Parmesan cheese

  1. Preheat oven to 350°.
  2. Cut tops off bell peppers; discard seeds and membranes.
  3. Cook peppers in boiling water 5 minutes; drain.*
  4. Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat.
  5. Add shallots; sauté 3 minutes or until tender.
  6. Add mushrooms; sauté 4 minutes or until tender.
  7. Add parsley, almonds, sherry, and chile powder; sauté 3 minutes.
  8. Add rice, tomato juice, black pepper, garlic powder, and salt; sauté 3 minutes.
  9. Spoon 3/4 cup rice mixture into each bell pepper.
  10. Top each bell pepper with 2 teaspoons cheese.
  11. Place stuffed bell peppers in a 13 x 9-inch baking dish; bake at 350° for 15 minutes.

*Instead of boiling the peppers beforehand (I don't particularly like boiled vegetables) another option I've found is to simply bake them for ~30 minutes instead of the recommended 15. However, to avoid scorching the cheese, you have to remember to add it 15 minutes from completion so this does add another step.

Some suggested adding 1/2 cup water for a small baking dish and baking the peppers in that. I'm kind of wary of that, so I did the previous method of 30 minutes at 350 F and it turned out well. The peppers were tender but crunchy, which is just the way I like them.

Also, it's easier to cut the peppers into halves lengthwise and fill both halves with the stuffing. The insides warm more evenly and the peppers sit better in the baking dish.

Lastly, for those who consider black pepper spicy (like me) and are worried about the ancho chili powder, there's no need to fret. The ancho chili is the mildest and sweetest of the chilis so it's actually not spicy once you mix it with everything. I mean, you could tell there was chili powder in the recipe but I wouldn't consider the outcome spicy by any means.

This recipe can be significantly amended to include all types of meat and veggies, as well as use beans as I had originally intended. Also, cheese toppings can be mixed up to add more variety. We used gorgonzola instead of parmesan on half of ours and it was so much better. Next time I think we'll mix some cheese into the rice/veggies inside to make it that much better. My mouth is watering just thinking about it.

In short, this recipe is delicious, easy and quick to make, and reheats well in the oven for leftovers (which says a lot coming from me since I absolutely HATE leftovers).

It's also pretty good for you (a stuffed pepper is one serving, which is plenty filling):

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