It all started about three weeks ago when I decided I wanted to cut meat from my diet. This is certainly not a permanent change, it is just something I wanted to challenge myself with. Not eating meat as a part of my daily diet allows me to be more creative in thinking of different ways to execute a dish and incorporate new ingredients. It also forces me to think before eating rather than mindlessly going about my daily food intake. I am having so much fun with this new challenge I set for myself and I hope I can inspire some creativity in all of you, my readers. Originally this recipe was intended to be vegetarian, but as I got near the end of the dish, I realized it is also vegan-friendly as I used no animal products to create it.
6 bell peppers
3/4 cup wild & brown rice mix
2 Holland leeks, only white parts
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 white onion, for tomato sauce
4 celery ribs, quartered and diced
7-10 button mushrooms
6 tomatoes on the vine; seeded & diced, 3 for stuffing, 3 for tomato sauce
1 bunch of green swiss chard, chopped
1/2 cup golden raisins
1 can garbanzo beans (chick peas)
1 large can tomato sauce
1 tablespoon ground coriander
1/2 tablespoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground allspice
1 tablespoon crushed red pepper flakes, for tomato sauce
In a large pot, sauté the leeks, garlic and celery in olive oil for about 5 minutes until they are softened. Season with salt and pepper. Add the mushrooms and tomatoes and cook for another 3 minutes. Add the rice, swiss chard and raisins along with the cumin, coriander and allspice. Add enough water to cover the rice and season the mixture with salt. Once the water comes up to a boil, reduce it to a simmer and cover the pot. Allow the rice to cook for about 15 minutes or until most of the water is gone. Rinse the garbanzo beans and add them towards the end because they are already cooked. I decided to add the garbanzo beans to the recipe at the last minute to add texture and protein to the meal. After the mixture is cooked, add fresh parsley and remove from the heat.
Meanwhile, preheat your oven to 350°, cut the tops off from your bell peppers and remove the seeds from inside. Lightly coat the peppers in olive oil and season the insides with salt and pepper. The idea is to cook both the stuffing and the peppers separately before assembling them. Cook the peppers for about 20 minutes until they are slightly softened.
In a saucepan, heat olive oil and add the crushed red pepper flake allowing the spice to infuse into the oil. Add 1 clove of garlic and the chopped white onion. Sauté for a few minutes until the onions are soft. Add the remaining diced vine tomatoes just before adding the can of tomato sauce. Season with salt and pepper and simmer while you wait for the remaining components to come together.
Remove the peppers from the oven and start the stuffing process. Stuff these bad boys until you think they’re about to burst. They can hold a lot of filling. Spread some of the tomato sauce you made in the bottom of the pan. Before placing the tops on the peppers, add some tomato sauce on top of the mix to ensure the rice mixture stays moist. Place the tops back on the peppers and put the pan back in the oven. Cook the peppers for another 15 minutes or so; until the peppers are completely soft.
You must try this.
* Apologies for not having a photograph of the final product. The peppers were ransacked by wild animals; wild herbivores.
*UPDATE: My sister was kind enough to take some photographs for me when my mom delivered some peppers to her house the next day. Enjoy!
The Refined Palate
© Xristina Miros 2012