Vegetarian Stuffed Peppers with Parsley, Rice, Corn and Tomato Sauce

Whether you use leftover rice and tomato sauce or make this all in one fell swoop, it’s the ultimate end of summer/beginning of fall, cool evening meal. Not too heavy, not too light, not too hot, and completely summer vegetable beautiful. Adding parsley to the rice mixture and using a mix of bell peppers (or whichever you happen to have in your box that week) make for a beautiful presentation. A green salad is all you’ll need to round out the meal. For protein add some nuts to the salad (toasted almonds or pecans?) or throw some sunflower seeds, hemp seeds, or even slivered cashews into the rice mixture itself. You can basically take your leftover rice (or cook up a fresh cup of dried rice with broth instead of water, or half broth and half water for flavour) and add whatever you want (sauté some onions or shallots and garlic in a little oil and then combine in a bowl with 1/2 a diced jalapeno and 1/2 cup of fresh parsley (or chives, or oregano, or basically whatever fresh herb or herbs you have handy – use them up!). And use any kind of leftover rice. Anything! Honest! I had some sushi rice sweetened with sugar and vinegar, but rice pilafs or simple brown basmati both work great. Probably better than my practical fusion.

Ingredients:

4 peppers (or however many you have – 3 or 2 is fine as long as you don’t mind a little too much stuffing, and if you have an extra dice it and add it after the onions in step 2)
1 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 cup corn (freshly shucked or frozen)
2 tbsp water
1/2 cup fresh parsley (or a mix of herbs such as oregano, basil, chives or anything green that you like a lot)
1/2 jalapeno or other chili pepper, seeds and membrane removed, diced (if you use a different chili pepper be careful how hot it is. You can always add more heat later, but you can’t take it away!)
3 tbsp chopped walnuts, sunflower seeds, almonds, or hemp seeds (optional)
3 1/2 – 4 cups cooked rice (if not using leftover rice, use brother or half broth and half water to cook the dried rice)
2 to 3 cups tomato sauce
Directions
1. Looks fancy, but it’s really easy.  First, wash and clean the peppers by cutting off the tops and removing seeds and membrane pretty carefully with a knife. It’s not the end of the world if you miss some. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.2. Next, heat the oil in a large skillet, and when hot (the skillet, not you), add the onion and garlic. Stir and cook for 1 minute, then add the optional diced red pepper. A few minutes later (or once the onion is softened, if you didn’t add the pepper) add the corn and the water and cook for another 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the cooked rice. Some people also like to add half the tomato sauce now to season the stuffing, but you can leave it as is and just top with the sauce in the next step.

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3. Pour the mixture in the saucepan into a heatproof bowl with the parsley, diced jalapeno, and walnuts. Multitasking is tough, it’s true.

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4. Stuff the rice mixture into the peppers in a baking dish (if there’s extra just eat it as is with some tomato sauce. It’s delicious on its own, just not as pretty). Try to stand the peppers upright, but if they fall over don’t worry. They’ll still taste good, and you waste your energy swearing at them to stand up – a lesson I have yet to learn well. Add the tops and pour the sauce over the peppers.

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Vegetarian Un-Stuffed Pepper Plate

5. Bake for 30 minutes. The peppers should soften and darken, and the filling should be hot and comforting. Keep baking it until it reaches your favourite level of char. You can also put them under the broiler for a few minutes if you really want to darken the skins and roast the peppers, but take off the tops to do this or they’ll probably burn and set off the fire alarm. OR take off the tops, add some cheese – mozza, Parmiggiana, or feta, or whatever you have – and broil or bake until melted.

6. Be thankful for summer and heat and happy for beautiful leaves that trick you into thinking winter won’t be so bad after all.

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