Winging It With What You’ve Got – Stuffed Peppers

Let me first start with a little tip of my hat to one of my favorite vegetarian cookbooks – Vegetarian Suppers by Deborah Madison.  I love this book and I think I’m pretty close to having made every recipe in the book.  So recipes are great, but sometimes you just need to let your cupboards and refrigerator do the talking. In other words, interpret your recipe LOOSELY.

Last night I had planned to make this great recipe that Madison has for Yellow Peppers Stuffed with Quinoa, Corn, and Feta Cheese.  I decided to go that route because I had 4 lovely orange peppers sitting in the fridge.  I hadn’t really inventoried the other ingredients I would need, but let’s just say that the substitution of orange peppers for yellow ones wasn’t the only recipe tweak I ended up performing.

  • red onions got replaced by half red and half yellow, just because that’s what I had
  • the pan got deglazed with a little sherry because we had killed our only bottle of white wine the night before
  • quinoa seemed like a hassle so I opted for the precooked tub of organic brown rice that I always keep on hand for moments of laziness just like these
  • the jalapeno just got ditched and not really replaced by anything
  • frozen corn gave way to a good old can of corn
  • kale beat the spinach to the skillet because there wasn’t a leaf of spinachto be found in the house
  • and finally, the feta cheese got replaced with some good old Mexican blend because I didn’t want to listen to kid #2 whine about not liking feta cheese

Believe me when I say that people who review recipes and then proceed to tell you that they changed every living detail about the recipe really annoy me.  But sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do just to get dinner on the table (side note to those recipe reviewers – – – it’s simple, improvise however you need to, but just skip the whole reviewing thing as a favor to us all).

So here’s the recap of how this meal came together.  I’ll give you the real recipe at the close of the post.

Start by cutting the peppers in half, removing stems and seeds, and then putting them in a pot of simmering salt water.  Let them cook 5 – 8 minutes until they are tender to the touch of a knife, but not too soft.

Slice the onions into thin rounds. In a skillet, warm 1 Tbsp. of olive oil.   Add the onions and saute until they start to brown. Deglaze the pan with wine (or sherry as I did) and stir the onions as you do. Season with salt and pepper, and then spread the onions in the bottom of a 9×13 casserole dish.

Place the peppers on top of the onions.

In another skillet, warm 1 1/2 Tbsp. of olive oil.  Add the scallions and Jalapeno (if you have it).  Cook for about 2 min. and then add garlic, cumin, corn, and spinach (or kale), and 2 Tbsp. water.  When the greens are wilted (kale will take longer than spinach), add cilantro, quinoa (or rice), and cheese.  Toss everything until well blended, and season with salt and pepper.

Fill the peppers with the mixture. Drizzle 1/2 Tbsp. olive oil over them.

Bake at 400 degrees for 20 – 30 minutes until they are heated through.  Switch to broil for the last couple of minutes to brown the tops.

And here’s a picture from another meal, when I actually followed the recipe as written.

My personal preference includes the feta cheese, just because I am such a fan, but I have to admit that the absence of whining was a definite upside to last night’s version.

So now here are the actual quantities and ingredients as given by Deborah Madison:

sea salt & freshly ground pepper

1 cup cooked quinoa

3 Tbsp. olive oil

1 bunch scallions, thinly sliced into rounds

2 jalapenos, seeded & finely diced

1 clove garlic, finely chopped

1 tsp. cumin

2 c. frozen corn kernels

1 bunch spinach

1/2 c. chopped cilantro

1/4 lb. feta cheese

2 red onions, thinly sliced into rounds

1/2 c. white wine

4 yellow bell peppers

Wondering about the nutritional value of bell peppers?  Definitely a winner for vitamin c and vitamin A.

Nutrient%Daily Value in 1 c. Raw Bell Pepper

vitamin C 195.8

vitamin A 57.6%

vitamin B6 13.5%

folate 10.5%

fiber 7.4%

vitamin E 7.2%

molybdenum 6.1%

vitamin K 5.6%

potassium 5.5%

manganese 5%

vitamin B2 4.7%

vitamin B3 4.5%

vitamin B1 3.3%

tryptophan 3.1%

vitamin B5 2.8%

magnesium 2.7%