Gawsh, isn’t that guy (above) just gorgeous? My-oh-my, I’m drooling over him like a photo of George Clooney.
Who would of thought a vegetarian stuffed pepper could get me so excited? (It’s the little things … really.) For those of you who have never had a stuffed pepper, this dish is typically made with peppers (duh), and stuffed with some version of tomatoes, rice, cheese and ground meat.
I scooped up some fresh peppers a few days ago at the grocery store when I noticed they were on sale. I didn’t yet have plans to turn them into total hotties, but I told them right away that the five of us were going to have some fun. (After I winked at them, I realized I had taken the charade a bit too far.) Anyway, I chose one in each color because, well, they’re pretty.
I let them sit in their produce bowl for a few days, figuring they would make their way into a salad or quesadilla. But when I began to planner dinner last night, I suddenly had the genius idea to turn those overlooked and underappreciated men into stuffed peppers. But not the kind y’all might be used too. These gentleman were bound to be a healthier, vegetarian version of their ancestors, yes indeed.
Check ‘em out.
Vegetarian Stuffed Peppers (gluten-free, too!):
- 4 medium bell peppers (any color — red, yellow, orange or green!)
- olive oil (about 2 Tablespoons for sautéing)
- 3 portabella mushrooms, sliced
- 3 medium carrots, peeled and diced
- 2 scallions (green onions), chopped
- 6 fresh basil leaves, shredded
- 2 Tablespoons fresh oregano, chopped
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 1 cup shredded mozzarella
- 1 14.5-oz. can of diced tomatoes
- 1-1/2 cups gluten-free brown rice, cooked
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
- pepper, as desired
- 1/2 cup pasta/tomato sauce
- 1/3 cup Parmesan cheese
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Remove core from each of peppers and excess seeds. Place peppers, standing up, in a shallow 8×8 baking dish. Set dish aside.
In a medium pan, heat about 2 Tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat. Add mushrooms, carrots, scallions, basil, oregano and garlic, sautéing for 6 – 7 minutes, until vegetables soften. Allow vegetables to cool and drain excess liquid from mixture if necessary. Set aside.
In a medium bowl, combine mozzarella diced tomatoes, brown rice, salt, pepper and cumin. Stir together and then slowly add reserved vegetable mixture. Mix thoroughly until combined.
Using a spoon, stuff each pepper with the vegetable and rice mixture, making sure to pack in the ingredients until top is overflowing. (It’s OK if it falls down along the sides — more for later!) Top each pepper with Parmesan cheese and then place tomato sauce in the bottom of the dish, around the peppers.
Bake on the 3rd or 4th rung of oven (to keep the cheese from burning) for 25-30 minutes, until cheese begins to brown.
I served these up with a side of lightly sautéed, chopped asparagus. And naturally, when I scooped out my pepper of choice, I was sure to also get a little bit of the “extras” in the bottom of the dish to have alongside my pepper.
These peppers were tasty to the 2.2 million-th degree. Like yesterday’s polenta lasagna, the ingredients are fresh and light, and made me feel good about eating dinner. Not heavy and overly-stuffed. Just oh-so-satisfied.
And how about those colors? Gosh, they make me fall in love with this dish without even tasting a single bite.