Thursday, August 15, 2013

Seitan Stuffed and Roasted Bell Peppers

My life's mission over the past few years has been to make an edible the perfect bell pepper...the perfect stuffed bell pepper to be more specific.   I am proud to say...I have done it!  Well, it's not perfect but it's dern tasty!  And vegan to boot!  Holla!

You will see, this dish calls for brown rice, but quinoa would be an equally delicious substitute (hello complete protein!).

Ok, ok, so in the name of honesty, I must admit, before this recipe, I had never made an edible batch of stuffed bell peppers.  I know, its tragic.  The first time I made bell peppers, I had just moved in with my husband and I was still learning the most basic concepts of cooking...let's just say we ate a lot of cold cuts back then!

One particular evening, I tried my hand at stuffed peppers.  A good friend of mine always made these beautiful,  stuffed green and red bell peppers that wowed the dinner crowd at pot lucks.  I was determined to wow my husband and make a culinary creation I was actually proud to put on the table.  I whipped them up and they were gorgeous...well, gorgeous looking.  Brightly colored and overflowing with juicy filling.

We cut into them and took a bite...and nothing.  I've had bad food in my day, but rarely have I had something that litterally tastes like nothing.  I take that back.  They were reminiscent of cardboard.  Stale and extremely lackluster.  So sad.  After about 10 tablespoons of salt, my husband choked one down and asked for another to make me feel better.  I waved my internal white flag and did not attempt stuffed peppers again until about a year ago...and they were a mild improvement.  We avoided sandwiches..but only because I didn't have bread.  Therefore, I can't even say the decision to eat them was voluntary.  Seriously, the bell pepper has plagued me.

But no more!  No sir.  Not up in here!!! I have finally devised a recipe that even my bell pepper fearing husband and my serious scary bell pepper complex couldn't touch.  Ha!  Take that bell pepper curse!  These are delish...nanny-nanny-boo-boo!!

In addition to being tasty, these are super easy to make and freeze wonderfully! Make a batch of them on Sunday, cover them in the fridge and bake em up on a moment's notice during the week for an easy, quick dinner.  If you've had a stuffed bell pepper complex or fear, these bad boys are for you!!

Alrighty then, let's chat ingredients shall we?  If you haven't noticed from the title, these bad boys have seitan in them!  (I am still not entirely sure how to pronounce this vegan husband calls it "satan" to be funny...I'm going to assume that is not how it's supposed to be pronounced).  Basically, seitan is wheat gluten.  It's a great meat substitute if you aren't crazy about soy...but be warned, this is wheat gluten.  If you have gluten allergies, you might want to substitute something else in seitan's place.

See?  Not so scary, now is it!  And c'mon, who doesn't love foods with a mustache man on the cover?

In this recipe, I used san marzano tomato sauce...holy cannoli.  I know this sauce is pricey, but it's so tasty if you aren't going to make the sauce yourself.  Yummy yummy yummy!

Ok, ok, get to cookin'!

Seitan Stuffed and Roasted Bell Peppers
*Makes four stuffed bell pepper halves. I love using red peppers for this dish.  Sweet and satisfying! Serve with a simple green salad topped with a sweet salsa, like mango (pictured above).  The sweet/spicy really compliments the peppers!

2 red bell peppers, cut in half, seeds and membranes removed
1 tablespoon coconut oil
1/8 cup diced bell pepper (I used red bells - this is a very full 1/8 cup)
1/4 cup onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 package crumbled seitan, I used Upton's Naturals
3 green onions, diced
1 cup cooked brown rice
1 cup marinara sauce
1/2 cup loosely packed fresh basil, chopped
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp agave
salt and pepper to taste
Daiya cheese, mozzarella shreds

To Make:
1. Preheat oven to 350F.  Cut bell peppers in half and remove seeds and membranes, leaving them hollow.

2.  Heat the coconut oil over medium heat.  Add onion and red bell pepper.  Saute 2 minutes, or until onion is soft and starts to look translucent.  Add garlic, saute for additional 30 seconds to 1 minute, stirring so the garlic doesn't burn.

3.  Add in the crumbled seitan and green onions.  Saute for 1-2 minutes.  Reduce heat to medium-low.  Add in the brown rice, marinara sauce, basil, oregano, and agave.  Stir and cook for 3-5 minutes allowing the flavors to develop a bit.  Taste, and season with salt and pepper.  I used nearly 1/2 tsp salt and pepper, so feel free to season liberally to taste.  How much you use will greatly depend on the marinara you choose.

4.  Remove from the heat.  Place the 4 hollowed out bell peppers on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.  Fill each with 1/4 of the filling, and top with Daiya cheese shreds.

5. Bake for 30-40 minutes, or until the peppers are slightly shriveled and soft.  *Note: Daiya cheese does get a melty stretchy texture just like regular dairy cheese but you can't really tell by looking at it.  Careful not to burn your peppers waiting for the "melt"!

6.  Serve with a big 'ole salad and enjoy =)

Did you know that green bell peppers are not-quite-ripe red and yellow bell peppers? Me neither!  A little lesson I learned from Kris Carr.  That woman is fantastic.  Just sayin'!

Do you have a stuffed pepper horror story?  Tell me!  I'd love to hear someone else struggled to master these tricky beasts!!


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