Stuffed Red Peppers
Lundberg Farms' mahogany rice is a favorite of mine. An interesting blend of black and cocoa colored rices that cook up chewy with a rich, almost meat-like, flavor. This rice makes a wonderful vegan base for stuffing vegetables.
I cooked the rice according to package directions; 1:2 rice to water ratio. After 45 minutes the water was absorbed and the rice was tender yet chewy. Meanwhile, I diced, then sautéed a medium yellow onion, 2 carrots, a stalk of celery and 2 cloves of garlic in a tablespoon of olive oil.
As the vegetables softened, I added half a dozen chopped button mushrooms and a few minced black olives (5-6). A dash of water kept things from sticking as the veggies cooked and then covering the sauté pan for four or five minutes allowed them to steam a bit without having to add any extra oil.
When the carrots in the mixture were crisp tender, I combined the veggie mix with the rice. This is a forgiving recipe. Add spices or flavorings or other vegetables which appeal to you. For a hint of Mexico, a bit of cumin, oregano and some chili powder would be nice. For an Italian flair, a tablespoon of tomato paste, a bit of Italian herb mix and perhaps a dash of red wine instead of water for sautéing and steaming the veggies. So many options!
I cut the peppers in half lengthwise and stuffed them with the rice mix. I like a sweet and sour tomato flavored sauce with stuffed vegetables. A simple technique is to use a small can of tomato sauce and add a pinch or two of brown sugar and some vinegar.
I had a bit of homemade tomato soup in the fridge. I extended it with some veggie broth to make a full cup and added a teaspoon of raw sugar and 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar. Tasted good to me, and I knew it would cook down and mellow out as the peppers baked. Using a cup of vegetable broth alone would be fine, too. The peppers need moisture as they roast. The drippings are great at serving time— spoon some over each pepper.
Use a baking dish that will accommodate the stuffed peppers without overcrowding but small enough to allow them to 'hold each other up'. Pour the liquid you choose to use into the bottom and around the peppers - about a quarter to a half inch of liquid is fine.
The peppers roasted, covered for 45 minutes, and then uncovered for another 15 minutes in a 350° oven. I served them with some steamed greens (broccoli rabe) to kick up the nutritional level while adding a lovely color balance and offering the taste buds more to savor.