Summer Eats: Stuffed Vegetarian Peppers

This “meatless” meal celebrates lots of different local produce that is available this time of year!! Bell peppers, zucchini, dark leafy greens, fresh herbs, tomatoes – all invited to this party. Lentils are a great vegetarian source of protein, and fibre – and they taste great used here. Serve this with a green salad and a cobb of fresh Ontario Corn – summer on a plate!! Enjoy the dog days of August everyone:

Stuffed Bell Peppers with Lentils, Zucchini, and Fresh Herbs

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup cooked lentils ( I use black lentils but any are fine)
  • 1-2 zucchini or summer squash, chopped
  • 1 cup roughly chopped kale, spinach or chard
  • A bunch of chives
  • 4-5 mint leaves or basil – whichever you prefer
  • Half an onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • ½ cup halved cherry tomatoes
  • 2-3 large bell peppers
  • Panko bread crumbs
  • Herb du provence mixture, about 1 tsp
  • Chili flakes
  • Juice of half a lemon

 

Instructions:

  1. Prepare peppers by cutting in half, removing seeds, and place in a lightly oiled casserole dish. Preheat oven to 375F.
  2. Prepare “stuffing” by sautéing onion and garlic with chili flakes and herb du provence. Once onions are translucent and soft, add chopped veggies to pan – zucchini, greens, tomatoes – and sautee mixture until veggies start getting tender. Add in freshly chopped chive and mint. Stir in cooked lentils, and 1-2 tablespoons of broth into the filling, remove from heat.
  3. Spoon the veggie filling into the halved bell peppers, be generous
  4. Cover stuffed peppers with foil, and bake for about 20 minutes.
  5. Remove peppers from oven, top with panko breadcrumbs and lemon juice, salt and pepper – and bake for another 5-10, until topping is golden brown.

 

Bell Peppers: VEGGIE FACTS

  • The bell pepper, or sweet pepper, is a fruit of the Capsicum family – but the only member that does not contain Capsaicin – a plant compound or chemical that is responsible for other peppers’ “heat” or spicy qualities.
  • Peppers are technically a fruit, but we usually refer to them as vegetables.
  • Red peppers seem to be the richest source of antioxidants, including lycopene, beta carotene, and vitamin C.
  • As a fruit of the “nightshade” plants ( tomatoes, potatoes and eggplant also included), it is sometimes recommended that those with chronic joint conditions (osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis) avoid these foods, as they seem to worsen the associated inflammation and pain.

EFFORTLESS EATS: other ways to use Bell Peppers….

“Melted Peppers”

Slowly cooking finely sliced peppers of any and all colors, with olive oil and a bit of balsamic vinegar – makes them a totally delicious topping for all kinds of dishes. Use these slowly sautéed peppers on top of homemade pizza, cooled and added to sandwiches or wraps, also delicious as “crostini” with different cheeses.

Grilled/Roasted Peppers

Seeing as it is the heart of bbq season, peppers make a great addition to any meal you are creating on the grill. Halve them, brush them lightly with olive oil, season with salt and pepper – and place them direct on the hot grill. You can alternatively wrap them in foil, along with any other veggies you might have, and place them directly on the grill, or roast them.

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