I admit it. Old-fashioned peanut butter cookies almost ended up to be the recipe for the week — not stuffed peppers — an American delight. It’s enjoyed around the globe, using bell peppers, filled with a variety of foods fit for each country. As a California native, I turned to a “health nut” meatless pepper dish. They’re not the peppers my mom used to make.
In the 20th century, stuffed peppers included white rice, hamburger meat, breadcrumbs and tomato sauce on top. As a kid, I did enjoy these as well as porcupine meatballs. My mother used to create these little guys using condensed tomato soup, white rice, salt and pepper. My choice of foods has changed throughout the years growing up — but that doesn’t mean I have forgotten meat.
During the early part of the 21st century while new to South Shore, I recall I went through an anti-cooking phase. Frozen food was my best friend. One afternoon during a snowy day, at the grocery store in the frozen food aisle I stared through the glass cases at the ready-made convenient entrees, including spaghetti and meatballs to stuffed bell peppers — comfort food for winter. While I hadn’t eaten meat for decades, I did get nostalgic and craved meat dishes like the ones my mom used to make. But I settled for mac and cheese or pizza — no hot dogs or salami. This week my goal is to put a meatless pepper on the table that’s wholesome, filling, and forget memories of meat in yesteryear.
Meatless Stuffed Bell Peppers
1 1/2 cups brown rice, cooked
2 bell peppers, red, yellow, or green
2 tablespoons European style butter or olive oil
1/4 cup red onion, chopped
1/4 cup fresh baby spinach, chopped
2 teaspoons herbs (a mix of your choice, fresh preferably)
1/4-1/2 cup Roma tomatoes, sliced
4 tablespoons Parmesan cheese
In a pan, cook rice according to instructions. Meanwhile, in a skillet, melt butter, sauté onion. Pour into cooked rice. Add spinach, and herbs. Set aside. In a microwave dish with a half inch of water put two sliced, seeded peppers. Microwave about 5 minutes. Remove and stuff rice mixture. Top with tomatoes. Bake at 350 degrees for about 25 minutes. Top with cheese. Serves 2.
These stuffed peppers can be a side dish or an entrée. For me, it was a light dinner. The aroma still lingers in the cabin. What’s more, I feel better that I cooked a healthy meal rather a sugary treat. Yeah, I still get flashbacks of eating hamburgers and roast beef but going meatless always wins.
Motto: Change is good sometimes. Novelty can be unsettling but once you take the plunge it can be a blessing in disguise.
— Cal Orey, M.A. is an author. Her books include “The Healing Powers” series (Vinegar, Olive Oil, Chocolate, Honey, and Coffee) published by Kensington. The Healing Powers of Coffee is featured by the Good Cook Book Club, and the series is sold at Walmart stores nationwide. The Olive Oil second edition is in production. Her website is www.calorey.com.