I have to laugh because, while I love fall and all the food that goes along with it, I couldn’t help but notice that my site was suddenly looking incredibly pale. My recent posts have featured food in fifty shades of beige. Yummy, yes, but it’s left me craving a shot of color. I was inspired to make these after stumbling on a treasure trove of bell peppers at the farmer’s market. Every year in late summer and early fall they show up in jewel tones that you don’t normally find, like chartreuse, burgundy, palest yellow and purple. Peppers are like zucchini, they just magically multiply at the end of the season. I buy them first, figure out what do to with them later. As far as brilliance and color variation, peppers can’t be beat.
It seemed a real shame to cut up such stunning specimens, so I left these bell peppers intact and filled them with a vegetarian mix of rice and veggies. Stuffed peppers are one of my favorite comfort foods and a nice way to ease into fall cooking. They can be stuffed with any combination that you like. This recipe is just a suggestion.
I learned a neat trick when I made my Picadillo Stuffed Peppers. Before stuffing and baking the peppers you give them a slight charring on all sides by searing them on a hot grill or cast iron skillet. You can even do this right over an open flame. This gives them a nice visual appeal but also a little extra flavor boost. Even though they’ve recently found out that charred meat can be carcinogenic, charred vegetables are apparently perfectly ok. That’s great because I love the smokey flavor that a little bit of charring gives to this dish.
- 5 colorful bell peppers (try to find similar sized, round peppers that will sit upright)
- 1 cup cooked red rice (or other grain such as farro, quinoa, barley, etc)
- olive oil
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/2 onion, finely chopped
- 1 cup chopped potatoes
- 1 parsnip, peeled and diced
- 1/2 tsp cumin seed
- 1/2 tsp hot smoked paprika
- 1/2 tsp chipotle chili powder (or regular chili powder)
- 1 portobello mushroom, diced
- 1 small head of fennel, finely chopped
- 1-2 Tbsp tamari sauce
- handful of fresh greens (spinach, kale, or other) chopped
- 1 Tbsp fresh thyme leaves
- 1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
- salt and pepper to taste
- crumbled feta, goat, or queso fresco cheese
- chopped parsley
- Set the oven to 350F
- Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large skillet. Saute the onion, garlic, potato, parsnip, and spices over medium heat for a few minutes until the onions are translucent and the potato and parsnip are beginning to soften.
- Add the mushroom and the fennel to the pan and saute/stir-fry for about 15 minutes until the veggies are tender.
- Season to taste with the tamari sauce, salt and pepper, and then mix in the chopped greens, thyne, the rice, and cheese. Set aside.
- Trim the tops off your peppers, and gently scoop out the seeds and ribs. Set the peppers into a casserole so they fit snugly together. If they don't stand upright, trim the bottoms just a bit so they do.
- Fill each pepper with the stuffing, right to the top, and even mound it a bit. (At this point you can refrigerate the peppers for a make a head meal.)
- Pour a little water into the bottom of the pan, about 1/4 inch deep.
- Cover the whole pan with foil,crimping the edges so the peppers will steam in the oven.
- Cook for about 40 minutes, or until the peppers are tender. I like my peppers on the firm side, but if you like them softer, you may need extra time in the oven.
- Serve with crumbled feta, goat, or queso fresco cheese on top, and a little parsley for fresh color.
Use any veggies you want in the stuffing, just make sure to taste as you go because the only risk in a dish like this is that it can be on the bland side. The spices and sharp cheddar help with that.