Once I participated in an online learning program that took place in a virtual world.
Absolutely not my kind of thing at all, so I created a short, bald avatar who navigated barefoot through this imaginary digital land filled with impossibly tall, svelte and chiseled characters wearing outrageous shoes.
And what does this have to do with Vegan Stuffed Peppers?
Well, sometimes the online recipe world seems filled with impossibly beautiful meals served in an unachieveably ordered world where cats don’t lick butter that gets accidentally left on the counter.
(Make of that what you will.)
These stuffed peppers are filled with paprika-spiced rice and lentils, and topped with a simple tomato sauce. You may be able to make them impossibly beautiful on a particular day when the sun is angled just so and your mind is lit clear by it. (I imagine there are such days.)
The filling isn’t complicated, but because it uses brown rice, it does take a bit of time.
You could use this time to do something fantastically productive like declutter a closet.
Or plan a month’s worth of something useful.
Or gaze in wonder at the unshakeable optimism of a black-capped chickadee.
I try to focus on as much of this world’s beauty as I can, and these days that seems to be taking a bit more effort. So the presentation of the stuffed peppers might suffer a bit for the lack of attention to detail.
But at the table we are together, chaos and all.
And that is what is real.
- 6 green peppers, cut in half, seeds removed
- 2 tablespoons / 30 ml olive or vegetable oil
- 1 medium onion, finely chopped (about 1 cup / 250 ml)
- 1 medium carrot, finely diced (about 1 cup / 250 ml)
- 2 stalks celery, finely chopped (about 1 cup / 250 ml)
- ½ teaspoon / 2.5 ml salt
- 1 tablespoon / 15 ml paprika (see note)
- ¼ teaspoon / 1.25 ml ground pepper
- 1 cup / 250 ml uncooked brown rice
- ½ cup / 125 ml uncooked green or brown lentils
- 3 cups / 750 ml vegetable stock
- 1 small can (5.5 oz / 156 ml) tomato paste
- 1 large can (28 oz / 796 ml) tomatoes
- ¼ cup / 60 ml brown sugar
- ½ teaspoon / 2.5 ml salt
- 1 teaspoon / 15 ml dried dill
- 1 tablespoon / 30 ml dried onion flakes (or ¼ cup finely chopped fresh onion)
- ½ teaspoon / 2.5 ml garlic powder (or one clove fresh garlic, minced)
- ¼ cup / 60 ml cider vinegar
- Place peppers (open side up) in one large or two small baking pans.
- Prepare filling:
- Heat a large saucepan over medium heat. When the pan is heated, add the oil and swirl to coat pan. Add onions and cook for 2-3 minutes, or until onions begin to soften. Add garlic, carrots, celery and salt and cook for 1-2 minutes longer. Do not let vegetables brown. If they start to brown, turn down the heat.
- Add paprika and ground pepper and stir to coat vegetables. Add rice and lentils and stir to coat with paprika mixture. Add vegetable stock and bring mixture to boiling point. Reduce heat to maintain a simmer and put lid on pan. Simmer for 35-40 minutes or until stock is absorbed and there is no liquid visible on the bottom of the pan when checked by pushing aside some of the rice with a spoon.
- Fluff rice and lentils with a fork and remove from heat. Let sit for 5 minutes with lid on before using.
- While rice is cooking prepare sauce:
- Place all ingredients (tomato paste, tomatoes, brown sugar, salt, dill, onion flakes, garlic powder and vinegar) in a food processor or blender. Process until smooth.
- If you do not have a food processor, you can chop the tomatoes finely and stir all ingredients together until well mixed.
- To prepare peppers:
- Stuff peppers with rice mixture. Pour sauce over stuffed peppers and cover pans with aluminum foil. Turn oven to 350 degrees F / 176 degrees C and place pans in oven. Bake for 30 minutes, or until peppers are tender.