Perfectly ripe red bell peppers appear in the markets in September. I devised the following recipe to showcase them, replacing the typical ground meat stuffing with one featuring quinoa, nuts and squash.
This dish is not only vegan, it includes mostly ingredients that are indigenous to North America. The recipe is easily multiplied. Toast the seeds by tossing them in a dry skillet over high heat until one or two seeds pop and many seeds are browned. If you wish, drizzle hot seeds with a little oil and some salt or a spice. Then let them cool to room temperature before using in this recipe. I like to toast half a cup of seeds and then save the extra for a snack. You can also gussie up the sauce by adding parsley, basil or fresh thyme.
Vegan Stuffed Peppers
1 ripe bell pepper
1 cup quinoa, measured after cooking
2 tablespoons toasted pepitas
2 tablespoons toasted sunflower seeds
1 baby zucchini or yellow squash, chopped
3 ramp bulbs, chopped (or 1/4 cup chopped onion)
4 oil-packed sun-dried tomato halves, chopped
2 teaspoons oil from sun-dried tomatoes
2 medium tomatoes, peeled and seeded
2 teaspoons champagne vinegar or white wine vinegar
1 ramp bulb, chopped
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
Freshly ground black pepper
Preheat the oven to 350°F.
Split the pepper in half lengthwise, taking care to cut so that each half retains half the stem. Carefully remove seeds and membranes and discard. Drop the pepper halves into boiling water, blanch for one minute, then drain them in a colander and refresh under cold running water. Set aside to drain on a kitchen towel.Combine the quinoa, pepitas, sunflower seeds, squash, ramps, sun-dried tomatoes, and oil in a large bowl. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Stuff the pepper halves with the quinoa mixture, mounding it up. Set them in a baking dish, pour ¼ inch of water into the bottom of the dish, cover, and place in the oven. Bake 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and keep warm.In a blender or food processor, chop the peeled fresh tomatoes to a sauce consistency. Add the remaining ingredients and stir to combine.
Serve a pepper half on a pool of the sauce.