On one of our first dates, D and I stumbled our way through making stuffed bell peppers. The cooking process was awkward- that dance around the kitchen with someone you don’t quite know yet- and worst of all, stuffed peppers aren’t sexy to eat on a date. However, with brown rice, ground beef, and a few chopped veggies in the mix we thought we had it good. Two years later, we’ve topped it and THEN some—veggie style!
Vegetarian Stuffed Bell Peppers (makes 2 peppers)
2 green bell peppers with the tops cut off (only cut about 1/2 from the top)
(optional)- diced mushrooms, red bell pepper, or any other hearty veggies you wish
olive oil, salt, pepper
1/2 of an onion, diced
1 large clove of garlic, diced
tomato paste (we buy the resealable tube to prevent it going to waste when in the can)
2-3 oz of tempeh, unflavored — dice as small as possible or grate using a large box grater
2-3 oz of SoyRizo (available at Trader Joes, or your favorite fake chorizo)
3/4 cup of cooked quinoa
Parmesan cheese, freshly grated
Take the tops of your bell peppers and trim around the stem, discarding or putting the stem in compost. Pull the membrane and seeds out of the bottom halves and discard, washing the pepper thoroughly. Take the pieces of pepper that remain from the top, dice into the same size pieces as your onion dice. In a large skillet, saute the onions, garlic, and bell pepper (and any other additional veggies you pick) until soft. Simultaneously, boil a large pot of water and put the ‘bottoms’ of the bell peppers in so that they’re entirely submerged. Parboiling the peppers means less time spent in the oven! Turn the water down to medium heat (not a boil, but higher than a simmer) and leave for 5-8 minutes–while the skillet is cooking.
Add in about 2 teaspoons of tomato paste, the tempeh, and the Soyrizo to your onion/pepper mixture. When everything is combined, stir in quinoa-the exact amount you need will vary based on personal preference. I like things a little less spicy, so I add more quinoa to balance out the heat of the Soyrizo. D would rather add less quinoa and a handful of red pepper flakes!
Remove the peppers from the water, drain, and set upright in a deep baking dish– my 8″by8″ works perfectly. The bumps at the bottom of the pepper should keep the peppers upright–don’t worry if the tops aren’t exactly parallel! Fill the peppers with the quinoa mix and top with some freshly shredded Parmesan. (If you’re using pre-grated stuff from the grocery store, I HIGHLY recommend the upgrade to a block of Parmesan-it’ll last a while and the flavor is well worth the pseudo-expense.) Bake at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes, or until the tops of quinoa mix is toasted and the peppers are soft.
I have to say, the quinoa upgrade over brown rice is a significant upgrade–you get the nutty flavor of the quinoa and the tempeh, plus the added protein content since there’s no meat. The cheese is noticeable despite the small amount, and it’s veggie packed–even the serving ‘bowl’ is healthy! This is a favorite whether you have leftover quinoa or planned ahead by making the quinoa a few days before and just adding into your sauteed veggies. From start to finish this was an hour of work, but if you make a double recipe you’ve got lunch or leftovers for later in the week! I ate the leftover filling for lunch today by itself and recommend it regardless of whether you turn it into stuffed peppers!
As a total surprise, D jumped off the couch last night around 8pm and announced he was going to make dessert. For a man who doesn’t bake this was BIG. He directed me to stay out of the kitchen, pulled out a cookbook, and got to work. What resulted was amazing:
Blueberry Blackberry Crumble
handful of blueberries, either fresh or frozen
handful of blackberries, either fresh or frozen
zest of 1/2 lemon
quick cook oats- just the oats, not turned into oatmeal
1 tablespoon butter
Toss the berries and lemon zest and put into a greased ramekin or baking dish. In a separate container, combine the oats with the sugar and butter until crumbly. Sprinkle over the berries and bake at 350 until hot, bubbling, and the top is crispy. You could top with vanilla ice cream, but why bother?
OH MY GOSH. Why the boy needed a recipe is beyond me, but it’s fantastic-I love blueberries and lemon together (my favorite blueberry muffins do so) and the thought that went into it was enough to turn even a ‘meh’ dessert into a fantastic one. This was fantastic on its own, so I don’t have words for what D’s thoughtfulness added!