Something happens this time of year when all I want is comfort food. My appetite for light and fresh veggie-heavy meals suddenly craves hearty stews, rich pastas and roasted dishes.
Obviously, the weather change has a lot to do with this. As the night gets darker and cooler, all I want to do is snuggle in with my family and dig into something hot and homey.
I come home at the end of the day and I just want to indulge. My family has made our way through just about every soup you could imagine, from butternut squash to broccoli to minestrone. Thankfully, soup is always a hit here, but I was craving something new.
Suddenly, I felt a splurge of inspiration. I had some leftover quinoa and some bell peppers and lots of other veggies ready to go in the vegetable drawer. The obvious choice was stuffed peppers.
If you grew up on stuffed peppers or have made them before, you may know that the traditional recipe calls for ground beef, white rice and processed cheese. Sure, that may hit the home cooked-meal feeling, but afterwards you’ll be feeling like crap. Plus, why waste a perfectly good opportunity to use all those veggies that are about to go bad in your fridge?
I have to say, this was just the dish I was looking for. I totally bypassed my desire to gorge myself on comfort food and still felt completely satiated. Plus, the family loved it and it made for perfect leftovers. I could hardly wait to eat this again the next day.
What I love the most about it is how flexible it can be. I used squash, corn, broccoli and red onion because I had it handy but you could use any vegetables- mushrooms, zucchini, green beans, you name it.
I also didn’t have any boxed tomato sauce, so I pureed some chopped fresh tomatoes in a blender instead. I tossed in some black beans and for extra protein, but you could add white beans, chickpeas or even some butternut squash to make it heartier.
I forgot to add Daiya cheddar on top before I cooked them, so I just added it the next day when I ate the leftovers. These guys were delicious with and without it.
So here you have it, a perfect vegan dish. Loaded with benefits and without any gluten, sugar, dairy or meat. Serve it alongside some greens for the dish that keeps on giving.
Vegan Stuffed Peppers
4 bell peppers, any color, tops cut off and seeds removed
1 cup quinoa, rinsed
2 T olive oil
1 cup corn, if frozen, thawed
1 cup broccoli, cut into small florets
1 cup zucchini, diced
1/4 cup hemp seeds
1 red onion, diced
1/2 cup tomato sauce
1 cup black beans
1 clove garlic, minced
3 teaspoons paprika
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon dried parsley
salt and pepper to taste
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Cook the quinoa according to package.
In a large saute pan, heat 1 T of olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and a pinch of salt and saute for 5 minutes until softened. Add garlic, squash and broccoli. Saute for another 5 minutes until cooked and softened.
Add the seasonings and herbs and stir. Remove from heat.
In a large bowl, mix veggie mixture with cooked quinoa, corn, black beans, hemp seeds and tomato sauce. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Lightly coat bottom of a glass pan with olive oil. Put the peppers in, cup side up and sprinkle them with salt and pepper. Fill them evenly with quinoa mixture.
Bake for 20-25 minutes. If added Daiya cheese, sprinkle over the tops of the peppers 15 minutes in and broil at the end until brown and crispy.