My family found some truly beautiful multicolored peppers, and I immediately wanted to make a fun meal with them! Peppers can be a great vehicle for almost anything, so slicing them in half and cooking them makes a perfect little pepper boat that you can fill with whatever your heart desires. In this case, I filled these roasted peppers with a quinoa rice blend, cooked curried chickpeas, roasted cumin carrots, chopped celery, baked kale, and balsamic air-fried mushrooms. I was quite happy with how all these flavors went together, and it all combined nicely into a delicious plant-based meal!
My whole family loved this - which is saying something, because my mom STRONGLY dislikes peppers and my brother and dad really like eating meat. They were surprised at how filling it was; each of us only ate one stuffed pepper and were satisfied! I'm really happy about this because I have been talking to my family about how eating less meat can really help the environment (here is a great article for some quick info) and is a meaningful way for individuals to make a big impact.
If you are looking for an easy, healthy meal, this is a great option! It is vegan, gluten-free, and nut-free, and it is easy to make for a large group. It is really colorful and looks fancy, even though it is simple. If you are making this for a group, especially if some people have different dietary preferences or restrictions, you could set all the fillings out in bowls and let people build their own peppers, assembly-line style. This would be an alternative to you stuffing all the peppers yourself.
You can modify this by choosing a different grain and different vegetables, and could use tofu or another protein instead of chickpeas. I recommend preparing your fillings first, since the peppers only take 25 minutes to roast. I made everything else earlier in the day (ate some of the veggies for lunch too - meal multitasking!), then just warmed it all up while the peppers were cooking in the oven. If you have a warming oven, this is a great time to use it.
Makes 10-12 servings (basically twice the number of peppers you have, since you cut them in half)
5-6 large peppers
Fillings of choice
1. Prepare the fillings (details below), and set aside.
2. Preheat oven to 350F.
3. Cut peppers in half lengthways and remove the seeds, cutting through the stalks so each pepper half has half a stalk attached (this will help retain the peppers hold their shape).
4. Brush all around the pepper halves with olive oil, then place on a baking sheet with the open side up. Sprinkle salt and pepper on top, and roast in the oven for 20-25 minutes, until soft.
5. Remove the peppers from the oven, and add fillings! I added rice first, then veggies on top - it doesn’t matter how you add them, just have fun and get creative to make it colorful and look nice! Or let people add their own fillings.
I just used some microwaveable pre-seasoned packages, nothing fancy here! Definitely convenient when cooking for my whole family, and they taste great. No shame in using minute-rice or quick things like this! If you are making quinoa or rice from the dry grains, just follow what the package says and add seasonings.
...chop celery. That’s it! It adds a nice crunch to the meal.
Cooked Curried Chickpeas
Rinse and drain two cans (15 oz) of chickpeas, then add the chickpeas to a pot of boiling water, stirring occasionally. Once the chickpeas are soft, drain off the water. You may find that the skins have separated from many of the chickpeas; if so, remove them. You can peel the skins off the remaining chickpeas if you want and have time, but it isn’t necessary (I do prefer it without the skins though, but it doesn’t make a big difference).
Reduce the heat on the pot and add 1-2 tbsp olive oil, 1 tsp cumin, 1 tsp curry powder, and a shake each of chili powder and black pepper to the chickpeas. Stir often and keep simmering until they are fully cooked - they will be soft and tender, but not so much that they turn to mush (then you’ll be on the path to hummus - not a bad path, just a different one than this recipe!). Remove from heat and set aside.
Roasted Cumin Carrots
Chop 4-5 large carrots into round slices. Toss with a few tbsp olive oil, and season with garlic, cumin, salt, and pepper. Spread on a baking sheet and roast at 350 F for about 25-30 minutes, until soft. If you are short on time or impatient, you can microwave them first, then put in the oven for a roasted texture (or just microwave completely until soft).
Cut or tear full kale leaves into pieces (or use a bag of kale, try to use one with larger-sized leaves - not chopped). Toss in a large bowl with a few tbsp of olive oil, a dash of salt, and shake of pepper. The exact amount of olive oil will depend on how much kale you have, but start with 3-4 tbsp and if the kale isn’t evenly coated, add more.
Use your hands to massage the oil and seasoning into the kale, and make it softer. Spread out as evenly as possible on a large baking sheet, and cook at 350 F for 12-15 minutes, until it is soft and starting to get slightly crispy on the edges.
Balsamic Air-Fried Mushrooms
Slice mushrooms (I used baby bella) and toss with balsamic vinegar. The amount of balsamic vinegar will depend on how many mushrooms you are cooking, but just start with 1-2 tbsp and if all the mushrooms don’t get covered evenly after tossing, add more. You can also add a dash of salt, pepper, and/or chili powder. Air fry at around 350 F for about 10 minutes until soft, stopping every 5 or so minutes to shake the mushrooms. If you don’t have an air frier, you can add some olive oil and saute them until soft.
I hope you enjoy the recipe! Let me know what variations you make on it!