Thursday, June 30, 2011

Stuffed Peppers with Moroccan flavors

Wow, I served my family a vegan meal for dinner tonight!
(Note-- we're not even vegetarian)

As you may expect, it was super healthy, packed with nutrients, and completely balanced.  However, we were surprised at how filling and satisfying it was.

Living in Portland means high exposure to lots of alternative types of dining experiences, including vegetarian/vegan.  We used to live near the Blossoming Lotus, which is a well known completely vegan restaurant.  We first stopped by on a whim on one of our too-lazy-to-cook evenings, and got hooked on the complex interplay of textures, flavors, and fresh produce.

It seems the lack of meat as a protein is a great incentive to get creative with your ingredients.  Usually the meat-free protein comes from beans, tofu (soybean), seitan (wheat gluten), or nuts.  There is a much shorter prep time, and no worries about the dangers of being undercooked.

What I made tonight, and completely made up as I went, was stuffed peppers with a twist.  While definitely a savory dish, the fruit and the cinnamon give it a sweet taste as well.

See recipe below if you want to try it for yourself, it's too delicious not to share!

Moroccan Inspired Stuffed Peppers

1 T Olive oil
1/2 an Onion
2-3 cloves Garlic
1 package Veggie crumbles (similar texture to cooked ground meat, high in protein and fiber with zero fat)
1/2 an Apple
1/4 cup Raisins
1/4 cup Cashews
1 cup Mushrooms
1 cup Brown Rice, cooked
15oz can Diced Tomatoes
8oz can Tomato Sauce

1/2 cup Fresh Parsley
1 cup Baby Spinach

Salt, Pepper, Chili flakes, Cinnamon
6 Green Peppers

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a large pan on medium-high heat, sauté olive oil, diced onion and minced garlic until aromatic.  Add cashews and stir until toasted, a few minutes.  Add veggie crumbles, diced apple, raisins, quartered mushrooms, and cooked brown rice, mixing ingredients together as you go.  Turn heat down to medium.  When apples have softened, add can tomatoes and tomato sauce.  If mixture is too dry, add a bit of water to get a nice paste quality.  Turn down to low heat, cover, and let simmer.

Meanwhile, bring large pot of water to boil.  While waiting for the water to boil, prepare the green peppers by cutting off the tops and removing seeds and membranes.  Drop them into the boiling water and allow to soften over the next 5-10 minutes.  This step will save you lots of time in baking.  Use tongs to carefully remove the peppers and position them upright in a baking dish.

Now add chopped fresh parsley and chopped baby spinach to the saucepan.  Add salt, pepper cinnamon and chili flakes to your liking (the best chefs always taste as you go!).  Again, add a bit of water if too dry.

Spoon the sauce mixture into your peppers and cover with pepper tops.  If you have extra filling (and I always do), just pour it into your pan surrounding the peppers.

Bake 350 degrees for 30 minutes.  Serve hot and enjoy!

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