Wash the peppers and split them lengthwise. Remove the seeds and devein the halves, then place in the oven safe baking dish, cut side down. Roast for 10-15 minutes until soft. Edges will be slightly browned. Take out of the oven and let cool just slightly to allow you to handle them.
Lower the heat in the oven to 375 F (190 C).
While the peppers are roasting, place a large pan (cast iron pan preferred but not required) over the medium high heat. Add the oil and the ground beef substitute. Brown the “beef” for 8-10 minutes.
When the “beef” is browned, add the tomato paste, stewed tomatoes, and the chickpeas. Mix well, lower the heat to medium-low and sauté for another 5-10 minutes.
Turn the heat off, then add the chopped oregano and basil, and mix well.
Flip the roasted peppers over, and fill them generously with the ground “beef” and chickpea stuffing. Add any leftover stuffing and the water to the bottom of the baking dish.
Optional: top each pepper with a slice of fresh tomato and perhaps a fresh oregano and/or basil.
Optional: drizzle olive oil on top.
Place the peppers back into a 375 F (190 C) oven and bake for 30-40 minutes, or until the peppers are softened and the top of the stuffing is nice and deeply browned.
Take the stuffed peppers out, let them rest for 10 minutes before serving with your favorite salad, maybe some freshly baked bread, a dollop of sour cream or yogurt… Enjoy!
No matter which stuffing you choose there is one big tip for making the best stuffed peppers that are soft yet flavorful. I recommend that you par-roast the peppers (that’s like par boil but with roasting). The bell peppers I grew up with were less thick and if the peppers you get have thin flesh, this tip will not apply. But, here in US bell peppers are large and thick, and if you are to start from raw peppers that you stuff and roast you may end up with a pepper that is chewy and a bit rubbery. After some experimentation, I discovered that par-roasting the peppers before stuffing helps with all these issues.
What do I mean by par-roasting? It means roasting the peppers at high heat until they are only half way done, then using them in the rest of the recipe. The roasting will also help add a bit of a flavor to the peppers as their edges will brown. The pepper will finish cooking with the rest of the stuffing and be nice, soft and full of flavor.
I recommend slicing the peppers length-wise. That creates a nice boat to hold the stuffing. Also: when roasting the peppers I place them cut side down on the pan. This prevents liquid from pooling inside your pepper-boat, keeping the peppers dry and not mushy.
Now onto the stuffing. The key ingredient of the stuffing here is tempeh. Tempeh is made of soy, but unlike tofu it retains the whole grain, and it is dense and hard. If you want to soften the tempeh a bit you can place it into a pot of boiling water for a minute or two, but for this stuffing you don’t need to do that. By the way, tempeh is great for summer grilling, and as an ingredient for a fantastic taco filling!
The stuffing also uses sautéd onion and mushroom mix. I recommend sautéing these ingredients as I find raw onions hard to digest and sautéd mushrooms are much more flavorful. The recipe below also uses capers – pickled flower buds of the caper bush. Capers have a strong flavor and if you never head them before you may want to try a few before using them or if you can’t find them in the store where you live you can always add 1/4 cup of black or other olives. That will help boost the flavors as well.
The recipe also uses nutritional yeast. Nutritional yeast adds a bit of a nutty and cheese flavor to the dish and if you are looking for ways to substitute for nutritional yeast one suggestion I can make is to use some ground nuts, like almonds. Or you can use marmite or vegemite, which are both made from yeast extract that’s left over from brewing beer. A spoonful of miso paste may also work – but nutritional yeast will work best, so it’s worth tracking some down.
The stuffed peppers are best enjoyed with some sour cream or just a bit of melted cheese on top, and perhaps a simple side salad. That’s all you’ll need!
Tempeh Stuffed Peppers
What you’ll need:
4 bell (stuffing) peppers (any color)
8 oz (227 g) white button mushrooms or cremini (baby bella) mushrooms
1 yellow onion, diced
2 8 oz (227 g) packages of tempeh (plain a.k.a. original will work best)
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
1/4 cup capers (can be substituted by black or green olives, but not stuffed olives)
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1-2 tablespoons olive oil
What you’ll do:
Preheat the oven to 425 F (220 C).
Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper or some aluminum foil.
Wash the peppers, dry them, then cut them in half lengthwise. Remove the stem and seeds. Place the peppers cut side down on the baking sheet. Put in the oven and roast for 15 minutes. The peppers should be moderately soft but not roasted all the way through. Take the peppers out and let them cool.
Lower the oven temperature to 350 F (175 C).
While the peppers are cooling, prepare the stuffing. First, place a frying pan over the medium-high heat, add the oil and diced onion. Sauté the onion until soft and slightly yellow on the edges (4-5 minutes), then add the mushrooms. Mix well and continue to sauté until mushrooms are done (an additional 4-5 minutes).
Place the tempeh, sautéd onions and mushrooms, nutritional yeast, capers, soy sauce and spices into a large food processor and process until well combined and mostly smooth. If you don’t have a large food processor you will need to do this in batches in which case mix everything together in a large bowl then process bit by bit.
Drain any liquid out of the semi-roasted bell peppers and place them hole side up into a deep baking dish. Spoon out the stuffing evenly among the peppers. Spray the tops with some cooking spray, cover with foil and bake for 25 minutes. Remove the foil, increase the heat to 375 F (190 C) and let the tops brown for another 10 minutes.
Let the peppers cool for couple of minutes before serving. These are great with some sour cream on top or with a light salad. Enjoy!
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!