Meatless Mondays! Recipe: Stuffed Bell Pepper
This post is part of our Fall Blog Blitz! For the next few weeks, we’ll be bringing you special posts in support of our Slow Food Fall Membership Campaign. Come back often for more recipes, photos, tips, and resources as we celebrate Slow Food in all its forms!
Slow Food membership supports sustainable food production, teaching children how to grow food, preserving traditional foods, and celebrating food cultures. Together we are linking the pleasure of good food with a commitment to local communities and the environment. There is a place for you at our table here in our local Seattle chapter. Join now!
We're happy to see it as there are loads of delicious ways to participate in Meatless Monday! And we're fortunate here in Seattle to have a great resource for meatless idea for meat fans and vegetarians alike. Author Kim O'Donnel has written two books all about bringing the joys of tasty meatless dishes to dedicated carnivores: The Meat Lover's Meatless Cookbook: Vegetarian Recipes Carnivores Will Devour and The Meat Lover's Meatless Celebrations: Year-Round Vegetarian Feasts (You Can Really Sink Your Teeth Into).
We'll be sharing occasional recipes and tips from Kim on the blog, so today enjoy this recipe for Stuffed Bell Peppers. And check back often for more! Thanks, Kim!
Change is hard! Go easy, take it slow. That’s how my meat-loving husband and I got started six years ago, using Meatless Monday as a model. Rather than completely break up with meat, we took one day off, incremental baby-step bites that helped us create a new normal. One meatless day led to two and three, and what started out as an experiment has become our preferred way of eating. Nearly seven years later, our plant-based suppers outweigh the meaty ones but we still enjoy tearing into a (pastured and preferably locally raised) roast chicken.
Let Mother Nature be your meatless guide; there’s no easier way to get excited about vegetables than to prepare them when they are at their seasonal peak. Case in point: the stuffed bell peppers, below. After a long, warm summer, the Pacific Northwest is enjoying a true harvest of sun-loving crops such as sweet peppers. Get’em before the winter squash push them out the door!
Stuffed Bell Peppers
Makes 4 servings
At their peak in late summer and early fall, bell peppers make festive one-dish containers for a mix of seasonal veg and herbs, with nutty grains of quinoa doing a bang-up job as both starchy connector and protein-rich standout. What follows is a mere template for the filling; feel free to play and experiment with what you have on hand. The filling is delicious all by its lonesome, almost a meal unto itself.
½ cup red or beige quinoa, rinsed in sieve, or rice, pearl barley or instant couscous
4 yellow, orange or red bell peppers, sliced in half lengthwise, without removing stems
3 tablespoons olive oil
¼ cup red onion or shallots, diced
½ fresh chile pepper of choice, seeded and minced (omit for less heat)
2 to 3 cloves garlic, chopped finely
1 ½ cups fresh (from 2 medium-size ears) or frozen corn kernels, or 1 (15-ounce can) chickpeas, drained and rinsed
4 cups spinach, washed well, stemmed and roughly chopped, or equal amounts of chard or tender kale, stemmed
¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro, flat-leaf parsley, or basil
½ cup feta cheese, crumbled (or queso fresco, ricotta or goat cheese – or no cheese at all)
½ lemon (optional finishing touch)
Here’s What You Do
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
In a small saucepan, bring 1 cup of water to a boil for the quinoa. (The water amounts differ for other starch options; prepare according to package instructions.)
Add a pinch of salt, then add the quinoa. Stir, then cover and simmer over low heat until the grains are tender and begin to look starry and luminescent, about 15 minutes. Turn off the heat and set aside.
Carefully remove the seeds and membranes of the peppers. In a large saucepan, bring 6 cups of water and 1 teaspoon of salt to a lively simmer (not a rolling boil). Add the pepper halves (submerge the peppers cut side first) and simmer until slightly tender, about 5 minutes. Using tongs, remove the peppers and drain any excess water. Transfer to a baking dish for later.
In a large skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of the oil. Add the onion, and chile pepper (if using), and cook over medium heat for 3 minutes, until slightly softened. Add the garlic, corn, and greens, plus 2 tablespoons of water, and cook until the greens are wilted about 5 minutes.
Stir in the herbs and quinoa and mix everything together until well combined. Taste for salt and pepper, and season as you see fit.
Fill the peppers with the filling and dot with cheese (if using).
Drizzle the remaining oil over the peppers and bake for about 20 minutes.
Serve hot or at room temperature, squeezing the lemon over the top, if you wish.
Excerpted from The Meat Lover’s Meatless Cookbook by Kim O’Donnel by arrangement with Da Capo Lifelong, a member of the Perseus Books Group. Copyright 2010.
About Kim O’Donnel
For the past 17 years, journalist and chef Kim O’Donnel has dispensed cooking advice at numerous publications, including the Washington Post and USA Today. The first Meatless Monday blogger on record, Kim is a known authority for helping Americans eat more vegetables with her Meat Lover’s Meatless cookbooks. A graduate of the Institute of Culinary Education, Kim is the founder of Canning Across America, a collective dedicated to the revival of preserving food.