Thursday, November 15, 2012

Stuffed Peppers

My father used to make stuffed peppers for us regularly.  You know the recipe, ground beef, white rice, onions.  They end up being super oily and delicious.  Well, I have been trying to rediscover those gems from the perspective that I don't need meat every day, and I don't need every meal to be swimming in oil or animal fat.  I am not arguing that that isn't delicious, just that maybe I don't need it all the time.
My first challenge was to find a meat substitute.  I tried tofu, but even with a marinade, the texture gets lost.  I tried tempeh too, but it turned out to be a lot of rice (what with the rice in the dish plus the rice and other grains embedded in the tempeh).  After the Shepard's Pie last week, I realized that I could totally use mushrooms, so I did.  It was amazing.
Now in this recipe, I used arborio rice.  I would normally chose a brown or wild rice mix, but I had some arborio and I am a big fan of mushroom risotto, so I thought the combination would be good.  It worked out really well, but if you want a healthier, whole grain option, brown or wild rice would work well too.
The last major change for me in this recipe was that my father always pre-boiled the peppers.  I like the crunch, so I didn't, but you are free too if you are a traditionalist.

Stuffed peppers

3 marinated portobello mushrooms
1 small to medium onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
3/4 cup rice
1 tsp bouillon paste
4 large bell peppers (I like green because they keep their crispness)
1 small handful asparagus, cut into small pieces
Cheese (optional, I used Gruyere for John's)

Cook rice according to instructions, add bouillon to the water.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Saute the onions and garlic until soft and fragrant.  Core the peppers and chop any scraps.  Add the chopped mushrooms and saute until soft and deflated.  Add the asparagus and whatever pepper scraps you might have.  When the rice is almost done, but still moist, add it to the mushroom mix.  Fill the cored peppers with this mixture.  If you want to add cheese, put a thin slice on the top of each pepper.  Put the peppers in a baking dish and put into your preheated oven.  I use bread pans to cook mine so they don't have far to fall if they fall over.  A bundt pan can also be useful in this situation. Bake 15 minutes and then allow to cool about 5 minutes before serving.  If you have any extra filling you can always call it a vegetable filled mushroom risotto.

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