Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Stuffed Sweet Peppers

We have a farmer's market right down the road from us every Saturday.  Since the weather has been so nice we'll usually walk down there first thing.  They always have a plethora of these huge sweet peppers that I always pass on because I just don't know what to use them for.  Well, now I'm in LOVE.

I've made stuffed bell peppers before but decided to do something with more of a Mexican flare with these.  They roasted down and became sweet and tender which was a perfect combination with the beans and corn.

I had searched for a recipe but there weren't many to choose from.  So I sort of made it up as I went.  I used 1/2 a bag of dry beans because that's what I had.  I just let them soak for 6 hours and boiled them until just tender (about 45 minutes), because I knew I'd be cooking them down some more.  But feel free to use canned!  I also had a red bell pepper that I snuck in and it baked down wonderfully.  I had some extra filling left that we're going to eat with some polenta tonight.  So don't be afraid of leftovers!

Vegetarian Stuffed Sweet Peppers
  •  1/2 a bag of dried black beans, soaked and cooked.  Or, 2 cans black beans rinsed and drained.
  • 4 sweet peppers, washed (this would be enough for 8)
  • 1/2 a red onion, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 cup frozen corn
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper (or to taste-we like spicy) 
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/4-1/2 cup of water
  • Cheese (Mozzarella, cheddar, Mexican blend-whatever you have!)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
Pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees.

Heat the oil in a pan over medium heat.  Saute the onion until soft and add the garlic and spices.  Once fragrant, mix in the black beans, corn and water.  You don't want it to be soupy, but the mixture will dry out a little while baking in the oven.

Let this simmer over low heat while you prepare the peppers.  Cut them in half lengthwise, leaving the stems on.  Clean out the seeds and any "meaty" parts.  Lay them in a casserole dish.  I used a 9 by 13 glass dish.  Spoon the bean mixture into each of the halves and sprinkle with cheese.  Cover with foil and bake for 20 minutes with the foil on, and remove the foil and bake for an additional 10-15 minutes until the cheese is brown and bubbly. 

This is pretty quick to assemble and reheats fantastically the next day.  I made this with some cilantro-lime rice and it was delish!

Monday, March 26, 2012

BBQ Season for Vegetarians!

It's Spring!  So that means beautiful weather, fresh vegetables and allergies!  Here in Florida we have a very small window of tolerable weather, and it happens to be now.  We enjoy highs of 85 degrees for a few weeks before we start getting all the fun humidity and 100 degree heat!

As a vegetarian I confuse people as to my love for bar-b-ques, but I think it's the fun atmosphere I love most. It is usually laid back and chill.  I will usually make a batch of lentil burgers for myself and anyone else looking for something meat-free, but my meat-eating husband is a pretty big fan of these.  So don't be afraid of them...lentils never hurt anyone!

This recipe is really versatile and I make them different all the time with anything I have on hand.  I've used peppers instead of carrots and tossed in corn.  

Lentil Burgers

  • 1 cup lentils (any kind will work!)
  • 1/2 an onion chopped (I have used both yellow and red)
  • 1 large carrot, chopped or shredded
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • Cumin
  • A pinch of cayenne pepper
  • Rolled oats or bread crumbs
  • Salt and pepper to taste
First pick through the lentils for any stones or foreign objects before putting them in a sauce pan.  Cover them with enough water to so it's about 1/2 an inch above the lentils.  Bring to a boil and then lower to a simmer and cover.  You want them to be pretty mushy, so frequently check the level of water and add more if necessary.  They usually cook in about 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, either chop the onion, garlic and carrot or throw them into the food processor.  I enjoy the latter because it's faster and you can get a finer chop. 

Now you can either saute this mixture in some olive oil to soften or leave everything raw. (I enjoy the crunch of raw veggies in my burgers, but my husband doesn't so I usually saute everything.) 

When the lentils are tender, mush them with a fork before adding them to the vegetable mixture.  Toss in the spices and mix, then add about 1/4 cup of the rolled oats and stir.  You want the mixture to be firm enough to be able to handle and not fall apart, but not too dry.  I like to make this a few hours before and cover and let sit in the fridge for everything to blend together.

When you are ready to use the mixture shape them into hamburger size patties.  I usually get 6 good size burgers out of this recipe.  These also freeze very well.

There are a few ways you can cook them, I've tried them all and usually opt to just toss them in the oven while everything else is cooking. 

Baking:  Pre-heat the oven to 425 and place the burgers on a baking sheet (I cover mine in foil for easy clean up) that is coated with olive oil.  Bake on each side for 8-10 minutes.

Stove top: Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a pan over medium heat and cook patties until brown on each side. 

The grill is a possibility, but to keep them vegetarian you'll have to cook them on foil with olive oil.  This is annoying so I rarely do it.

Top as you would any burger and enjoy!  My personal favorite with some guacamole and lettuce on a whole wheat bun!