Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Veggie Stuffed Peppers

  I realize there that so far my recipe mix here is lacking in vegetarian main dish options.  I apologize for that.  We usually have too much meat in our house because my father will buy things simply for the fact that it is on sale.  Often I am trying to figure out how to use 2 pounds of pork or 3 giant chicken breasts before their "expiration" date.  (I don't pay too much attention to those dates because it varies so much.  My dad on the other hand......)  I love vegetarian meals.  Usually you just feel better after them, especially when you have some sort of meat the other 6 nights of the week.  These stuffed pepper are one of my favorite things to eat and make.  Packed with vegetables and rice, they are really healthy and super hearty.  It is a complete meal in a neat little package.  And it is a total make ahead dish; assemble up to three days in advance and bake it right before dinner*.

Veggie Stuffed Peppers
4 large bell peppers, roasted (any color, I like green for this)**
1 small onion, diced
1 med zucchini, diced
1 large carrot, diced
4-5 oz mushrooms, chopped
1 Tbsp minced garlic
1 jalapeno, seeded and minced
1 C rice, cooked (yield ~4 C cooked rice)
1 C grated cheese (cheddar or monterrey jack, leave out for a totally vegan dish)
2 Tbsp chili powder
2 tsp cumin
1 tsp paprika (optional)
1/2 tsp coriander
1/8 tsp cayenne (optional)
zest of 1/2 lime
salt, pepper, oil
1--8 oz can tomato sauce
zest of 1/2 lime
juice of 1 lime
1/8 tsp cayenne or 1 tsp chipotle puree
--Combine ingredients.  (Double the recipe if you like it really saucy!)

TIP:  Roasting Peppers:  Set a rack close to the top of the oven (but don't let peppers touch the elements) and broil until skin is black and bubbly looking.  It will only take a few minutes a side.  Make sure the skin is evenly charred.  From oven, immediately place in a deep bowl and cover with plastic wrap.  This will create steam and separate the skin from the flesh.  Let cool, peel off skin.  For this recipe, halve and take out seeds.

   Heat a little bit of oil in a large skillet over medium/med-high heat.  Saute carrots and onions for 5 min.  Add zucchini and mushrooms.  Salt and pepper.  Cook until everything is tender (but not mushy). Toss in jalapenos and garlic.  Remove from heat, let cool slightly.
   Combine vegetable mix with rice, 3/4 C cheese (reserve 1/4 C for top), spices, and lime zest.  Salt and pepper to taste.
   In a greased baking dish, place in pepper halves.  Stuff with rice and veggie mixture.  Top with sauce.
Bake 350 deg F for 15 minutes.
Top with the reserved 1/4 C cheese.  Bake another 10-15 minutes.
4 main dish serving or 8 side dish servings

 *If previously assembled and refrigerated, add 10 minutes to initial bake time.  If sauce and cheese are already on peppers, bake covered for the first 25-30 min.  Then bake uncovered for 10 min.

**If you don't want to roast the peppers, bake covered for 35-40 minutes and uncovered for 10-15 minutes.  Texture will be different because peppers started baking at a raw state.

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