I grew up in a family where stuffed peppers (Green Bell Peppers stuffed with a rice filling with tomato sauce, onions and ground meat) were a regular feature on my mom’s table. I always looked forward to stuffed pepper night too, because well, my mom made the very best stuffed peppers of course. I still love those flavors and this dish is a comforting one for me. But as I strive to improve my health and lose the weight I need to in order to achieve a healthier lifestyle I have been experimenting with these classic dishes that I have loved since long ago. Here is my take on my Momma’s Stuffed Peppers — No meat, no dairy and no starch either! By replacing the rice with cauliflower I significantly reduced the calories! I had the audacity to serve these to my mom. More on that later!
I use my own home made Puttanesca sauce but you could use a store bought puttanesca or whatever is your favorite red sauce. I love Puttanesca for it’s Mediterranean flare. True Puttanesca has anchovies, but I make it at home as a vegan sauce using black and green olives and capers and more. To make the filling I just dump the cauliflower rice into my wok with my crumble and pour a portion of my sauce right over it and mix it all up together to blend all those lovely flavors and textures.
Notice how the completed filling looks a whole lot like rice with ground beef, am I right? This filling is so good, I like to bake any extra I have right along with the peppers. It would make a great stuffing for any stuffing application.
The next step is to spoon the filling into your peppers. My mom always sliced the tops off to make a large pepper pocket and she cooked and served them with the tops on, which is what I did for these peppers. But you can also slice the peppers in half vertically and stuff the halves for reduced portions. When stuffing the whole pepper I use a muffin pan because it helps keep them upright without having to trim the bottom to be level. To get started, place a spoonful of sauce in the bottom of each muffin cup, stuff peppers with filling and top with a spoonful of sauce. If you are only doing 4 peppers like I was put the extra filling in the middle cups and top with sauce and then place the pepper caps over the center cups to roast. If you are doing 6 peppers, then you will have enough stuffing for all six. Bake for 45 minutes at 350ºF. Allow to rest a few minutes before plating. I like to use some Bragg Nutritional Yeast as a cheesy topping on these peppers. VERY TASTY!!! By the way, when I served these to my mom, she said they were perfect and was blown away when I told her they were not only vegan but that there was no starch – no rice! She was amazed and you will be too!
- 1 Head Cauliflower, cut into florets and “riced” in a processor
- ½ C Almond Milk
- 1 tsp Sea Salt
- Dried Italian Herbs
- Roasted Garlic Powder
- 1 lg Sweet Onion
- 8 oz.pkg Portabella Mushrooms
- 2-3 Cloves Garlic
- ¼ C Chopped Walnuts
- Cracked Black Pepper
- 4-6 Bell Peppers
- 2 C Vegan Puttanesca Sauce or Marinara
- Bragg Nutritional Yeast
- Wash and rice a head of cauliflower in your processor.
- Place riced cauliflower in a covered baking dish with healthy a pinch of sea salt and ½ cup Almond milk.
- Bake the rice for 20 minutes in a 350º F oven and remove from oven.
- Stir the rice and season with Dried Italian herbs and Roasted Garlic Powder and return to the oven to bake covered for another 15 minutes.
- Make a crumble in the processor with the onion, mushrooms, garlic and walnuts, pulse until it appears like a browned ground meat.
- Heat a large saute or wok pan and add a drizzle of Olive Oil. Toss in the crumble and add a pinch of sea salt and a few grinds of black pepper – if you like a little heat and are not using a Puttanesca sauce — add a pinch of red pepper flakes to the crumble. Brown your crumble to caramelize the onion.
- Wash and trim your peppers, removing the seeds.
- Once the rice is done. Add the rice to the crumble in your large pan along with about 1 ½ cups of sauce and blend thoroughly.
- Use a 6 cup muffin tin to support peppers. Place a spoonful of sauce in the bottom of each cup.
- Position each pepper in a cup and fill with rice mixture – use a spoon to tamp it down and fill them to the top.
- Put a spoonful of sauce on top of the stuffed peppers and top with the pepper cap.
- Optional: If you are baking 4 peppers, put the extra filling in the open cups and top with two of the lids so it gets that pepper flavor as it bakes. If you are doing 6 peppers, you will not have any extra filling.
- Bake the peppers for 45 minutes at 350º F and allow to rest a few minutes before serving.
- Garnish with Bragg Nutritional Yeast.