Saturday, May 14, 2011

Peppers Fit For The President

 The stuffed peppers tasted so much better than this photo looks. It simply did not want to stand by itself in the bowl, so I propped it up with pita chips--which now that I think of it, would have been a good thing to add to my menu that night. Also, I waited until the next day to take the photo, not realizing the pepper would appear so shriveled. Fresh out of the oven, these delicious bells were a delight to the tastebuds.
First off, I would not pester any of my friends or family to become a vegan. That may be due to the fact that I have become one under doctor's orders and not by choice. Even so, after just a few months of the vegan lifestyle, I can honestly say that I don't remember the last time I felt so normal. No more bouts with the intestinal disease that has put me in the hospital and/or resulted in four surgeries over the last 15 years. Oddly enough, I wonder why none of the other surgeons or gastro-guys ever mentioned eating vegan before this. The fact that I've lost considerable weight (which I could afford to do), look dewey-skinned sans makeup, and feel bright and sassy each morning when I get up has made a monumental difference in my life. And when you're past seventy, each day of feeling fine is a gift. That's my opinion anyway.

So would I want that for you too? Of course. Would I insist you give vegan a try at least once a week? Only if you want. If you stopped by my home for a visit, is there anything I might do to "silently" expose you to how good vegan food can be?  Doggone right.  I'd get out my arsenal of tried and true recipes that look like regular food, smell like regular food,  and taste like regular food. Today's recipe is one of those. It's so good that I'd serve it to anyone who dropped by, even if it were the president. (Yeah, fat chance of that ever happening; I'm just trying to make a point.)

My goal in all this? To intrigue you, the reader, with appetizing food that's been tested on my own palete as well as that of a few friends. Now I admit that I like my food with layers of flavor, mostly derived from assorted spices and herbs. If you aren't one of those "spicy" creatures, either cut down the amount or leave it out altogether. But be warned: mess with the flavor profile of any vegan dish and unless you're a professional in the kitchen, you'll be eating what everyone and their dog seems to think vegan food tastes like. 


2 Tbs. olive oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
Saute the onion in the oil for about 5 minutes or until the onion is translucent.

3 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups finely chopped mushrooms
Add to the above mixture and cook until the mushrooms lose their moisture, about 5 minutes.

1 Tbs. chili powder
1 tsp. salt
Stir into the above mixture. Then add to the pan:

1/2 of a 15 oz. can of tomato sauce
1/4 cup of water
1/2 cup quinoa
Lower the heat, cover and let simmer for about 20 minutes, stirring once or twice.

Cut the tops off  4 bell peppers of  any color and remove the seeds and ribs. Boil a pot of water, then add the peppers and cook for 5 minutes. This greatly reduces oven time for cooking the peppers through. Drain the peppers and let rest.

While the peppers are in the water, set your oven to 350 degrees.

When the mushroom, quinoa mixture has finished cooking, add 1 can of black beans, drained and rinsed and 1 tsp. pure maple syrup. Stir the beans, etc. into the quinoa mixture, give everything a stir to blend it together and let it simmer a few more minutes. Place the peppers in a small baking dish so they help each other stand upright and stuff each one to the rim. Pour the rest of the tomato sauce around the peppers and bake for 15 minutes. Remove the peppers from the oven, garnish with cilantro and serve. Not a cilantro lover?  Use parsley.

This recipe is so good I would eat it as is. However, it isn't like me to leave a good thing alone. I had some ideas on how to make this recipe more to my own liking, so the next time I made it, I mashed the black beans, giving them more body before adding them to the quinoa pan. The third time I made it I diced up one cooked vegan bratwurst and added it to the mashed beans mixture before filling the peppers. Ahh, now it's perfect. I suggest you try the original recipe and go from there. I served my bell pepper with corn on the cob, oven roasted in its husk. A fistfull of sweet black grapes served as dessert. I was so full I rolled into the livingroom and promptly dozed off in my recliner. I figured the dishes would still be there in the morning.

Springtime in S. CA and the azaleas are in full glory. I planted this sun-loving version just outside my library window so I could see it without having to walk all the way around the house.

Copyright 2011 by Sandra L. Keith, all rights reserved
Photos are the property of the author and may not be reproduced without permission.

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