Pistachios make a great snack! They are a tree nut related to cashews – so not an allergy friendly food. But, if you can enjoy nuts, pistachios are great to add to your nut rotation. As any other kind of nut, pistachios are versatile and work equally well as a simple raw (or slightly roasted, preferably dry roasted, no-salt-added) snack, or as an crunchy ingredient for many savory and sweet dishes. Last Thanksgiving, I made a lovely side dish with quinoa, roasted cranberries, and pistachios – you can’t get healthier and homier than that!
Of course, you can also use pistachios to make nut butter, or upgrade with couple of simple ingredients into a fancier creme spread. If you are using pistachios this way, you will need to soak them in water, preferably overnight. The soaking helps rehydrate the nuts and makes for a creamier and more spreadable butter/dip/spread. If you are watching your salt intake, soaking the pistachios and washing them out can also help remove some of the added salt if the only type of pistachios you can find in your store are the salted (or lightly salted) kind.
At this point you may be wondering what do pistachios have to do with vegan stuffed peppers? That’s a fair question – peppers are usually stuffed with some sort of mix of rice and/or beans, and other vegetables. But: there really is no limit when it comes to what you can use for the stuffing. Mashed potatoes? Sure, why not! Mushrooms and quinoa? Absolutely! Polenta? Sounds interesting! Corn and beans? Yes, of course!
My recipe below takes very traditional stuffing ingredients (rice, celery and carrots) and mixes it with pistachios, for a new take. Plus: this stuffing is versatile and can be used to stuff eggplant, zucchini, grape or cabbage leaves. It is cheap and the amount below will go a long way. Enjoy and have fun!
Vegan Stuffed Peppers with Pistachios and Rice
What you’ll need:
1 cup shelled pistachios
4 bell peppers, split in half lengthwise, with seeds removed
4 stalks celery, finely diced
2 carrots, finely diced
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 tablespoon paprika (or smoked paprika)
2 teaspoons dried basil
1 teaspoon dried oregano
2 cups cooked rice (Arborio rice or other medium grain variety; I make a large batch of rice to serve as a side dish for the week and take some of that to make other dishes like this one)
2 tablespoon olive oil (optional; if not using oil you can use 2 tablespoons of vegetable broth to sauté the vegetables)
3 tablespoons fresh Italian (flat leaf) parsley, finely chopped
2 cups water, divided
What you’ll do:
- Cover pistachios with water, and soak overnight in the refrigerator. The next morning, drain and rinse the pistachios then grind them into a very fine paste. You can do this using a food processor or a hand held stick blender – here are some stick blenders that will give you good results. Set the paste to the side.
- Preheat the oven to 350 F (175 C).
- In a large pan add the oil (or vegetable stock if not using oil) and place over medium high heat. Add celery and carrots and sauté for 5-8 minutes or so, until softened and slightly browned.
- Add garlic, mix well and sauté for another 2-3 minutes.
- Add the pistachio paste and 1 cup of water, mix again and cook for another 5 minutes or so.
- Next, add the rice, paprika, basil and oregano and mix to combine. Increase the heat to high for just a couple of minutes until the stuffing starts to bubble and combine. Turn the heat off and mix in the parsley.
- Arrange the peppers in a large baking dish (I used a Pyrex dish with the following dimension: 15 x 10 in (38 x 26 cm)), and fill each half with the stuffing until all the stuffing is used up. Pour 1 cup of water to the bottom of the dish – make sure not to pour the liquid over the peppers, rather pour the water down the side and let it distribute. Cover the dish with some foil and place in the oven for 35 minutes or so.
- When 35 minutes are up, increase the temperature to 430 F (220 C), remove the foil and let the tops crisp up for 10 minutes or so. Take the peppers out the oven and let cool for about 20 minutes before serving. These peppers improve with time, so if you can I recommend making them a day ahead, letting them cool completely before putting them into refrigerator and then serving them the next day.
- Stuffed peppers are best enjoyed with a simple salad (think lettuce with just a bit of oil and vinegar), although I do like them with a scoop of yogurt!
Copyright © Eat the Vegan Rainbow, 2019