Vegetarian stuffed bell peppers are an exotic, flavorful dish that work well as a side dish, yet are wholesome enough to serve equally as the main course.
The main difference between the vegetarian and vegan variations of this dish is that the former will typically include some type of cheese (mozzarella and parmesan are common choices).
A great thing about vegetarian stuffed bell peppers is that preparation takes very little time. The basic premise of the dish is simple: the top of the bell peppers are removed, the seeds and other innards scooped out, and the hollow cavity is filled with a tasty mixture of vegetarian proteins and carbohydrates, usually something hearty like rice and beans, plus
a wide variety of other ingredients for texture and flavoring. The removed top may or may not be replaced after filling, though in most recipes it is not. A variation on this
format is to vertically halve the peppers and stuff each side as described, though this is mostly a matter of preference regarding presentation.
Once the peppers are stuffed they are usually baked or roasted in a slow cooker, which can take anywhere from thirty minutes to four hours depending on the recipe and the desired crispness of the pepper. People who experience indigestion from raw bell peppers may want to opt for the longer cooking time to be on the safe side.
Standard Ingredients in Vegetarian Stuffed Bell Peppers
- Bell Peppers – This of course goes without saying. Green peppers are called for in most recipes, though the more expensive red, orange and yellow bells make for a much prettier visual.
- Garlic & onion – for the right amount of zing to the taste
- Rice – Rice provides a filling, carbohydrate-rich medium in which to mix the other ingredients, and gives the stuffing much of its bulk. Brown rice is a common choice, though white or wild rice would work equally well. A common variation is to substitute rice with quinoa, a delicious protein-rich and gluten-free whole grain commonly used inSouth America.
- Beans – A filling and tasty source of protein, black, pinto, red and other beans all work equally well.
- Vegetables – Chopped carrots are a go-to ingredient, providing a hint of sweetness plus an interesting and crunchy texture, but other veggies like peas, spinach, and celery.
- Herbs and spices – The spices you use will depend on the type of flavor you’re trying to achieve, though generally you go wrong with basil, oregano, cayenne or cumin.
- Tomatoes – A versatile ingredient that can be used in a number of different ways, tomatoes are often included in vegetarian stuffed bell peppers either fresh, canned, or in the form of sauce.
- Other ingredients – The only limit on what you put in your filling is your creativity. I’ve seen recipes that use olives, toasted pine nuts and honey to great effect.
Easy to make and wonderfully satisfying, this is a simple, hearty dish that should hold a place in every chef’s recipe box. The next time you need an idea for a quick and tasty meal or side, look up a basic recipe and give vegan stuffed peppers a shot.