Good evening beautiful friends,
I don’t know about you, but one of the reasons I enjoy cooking so much is to make other people happy. Yes, I’m a people pleaser. I like to make other people smile. It makes me happy when people are happy because of the food I made for them. Since adopting a plant based lifestyle, my main focus has been to show my friends and family how amazing and flavourful, a plant based diet can be. I don’t force my lifestyle choices down their throats. But instead, I choose to show them how delicious it can be. And by offering them a delectable variety of flavours and tastes, I’m hoping they’ll be motivated to make more plant based meals of their own or “veganize” one of their favourite meals.
I’m always thrilled, and happily surprised, when my friends reach out to me for help on veganizing a family favourite dish or for help on how to make a vegan meal from scratch that everyone in the family will love, including the meat-eating partner or the very picky toddler. It means I’m doing my job well. That makes me super happy!
And this is what this recipe is: a veganized version of one of my favourite meals my mom used to make when I was younger. Back then, the peppers were stuffed with a mixture of ground beef, white rice, diced tomatoes, celery, onion and spices. And it was served with a nice green side salad. Now I haven’t changed the side dish and still serve the stuffed pepper with a green salad, but I definetly modified the filling.
I also wanted to make the filling gluten and grain free. Like I mentioned in a previous post, my mom went gluten free a few years ago, in a desperate attempt to cure her acute arthritis that kept her away from her piano. My mom has been playing the piano for over 50 years so for her to not be able to play, was devastating. Well, I can happily report that my mom is now back at her piano and her arthritis is almost completely cleared. I do have to mention that she cut out more then just gluten. She also cut out dairy (which I had been insisting on for years!), corn and other inflammation causing foods. The protocol she follows is the hypo toxic diet as described by Dre Jacqueline Lagacée in her book, “The End of Pain”. I would encourage you to take a look at her books if you feel you’re not operating on an optimum level and pain is part of your daily life. Although not plant based, her book does point out what foods to eliminate and for what reasons. She is a published immunologist so her books are based on tons of sound scientific research. I myself, implement a lot of her hypo toxic protocol while sticking to a plant based diet as I believe the lather is what keeps me at my healthiest and happiest.
So back to the stuffed peppers… To replace the grains and gluten, I made cauliflower rice. Now it’s not as intimidating or as weird as it may sound… Cauliflower rice is actually made of raw cauliflower that is passed through a grating blade or an s-shape blade of a food processor and pulsed until it looks like little grains of rice. To cook cauliflower rice, I add it to a hot wok-like pan with a little olive or coconut oil. I keep the pan hot so the rice doesn’t steam. I want it to be a bit crispy so I stir it constantly with a wooden spoon to prevent sticking and burning while keeping the pan hot. Cauliflower rice is a great replacement in many dishes that require rice or other grains.
I also added lentils in replacement for the minced meat to give it that extra boost of protein. Lentils are the power house of protein in the plant based world so I always find it’s a great addition to a dish. Salsa verde has replaced the diced tomatoes to give the dish a nice spicy kick. If you don’t like spicy food, you add canned diced tomatoes or mild salsa.
Once the peppers are stuffed, I pop them back into the oven for 40-45 minutes so they get that crispy top and soft outer shell. But you don’t have to! If you like your peppers crunchy, you can just fill them up and eat them right away or pop them in the oven under the broiler and let the top crisp up a few minutes.
I hope you guys enjoy this recipe. Leave a comment and let me know what family recipe you’ve transformed and veganized.
- 1 cauliflower head, washed and cut into chunks,
- 1 Tbs coconut oil
- 5 medium size peppers ( I use different coloured peppers to make it visually interesting)
- 1 Cup cooked lentils
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 celery stalks, diced
- 2/3 Cup salsa verde
- 2 Tbs Montreal Steak Spice
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Cilantro and vegan yogurt to serve
- Preheat the oven at 350 degrees.
- Wash and cut your cauliflower into chunks.
- Take your food processor out and insert a grating blade. Pass the cauliflower chunks through the feeder. The cauliflower should come out looking like little grains of rice.
- Set aside.
- Dice one of the five peppers, the onion, garlic and the celery.
- In a sauce pan, melt the coconut oil on medium high heat. Add the onions, garlic and celery.
- Cook for 2-3 minutes, until onion is translucent. Add the pepper and stir.
- Bring up the heat to high and add the cauliflower rice. Stir frequently and scrap the bottom of the pan to prevent burning.
- Turn the heat back down to medium and add the lentils, salsa and spices. Stir to combine.
- Take off the heat and set aside.
- Cut the remaining peppers in half and remove the core and seeds.
- Place peppers in an oven safe dish and rub a little coconut oil at the bottom to prevent burning.
- Place your peppers in the dish and stuff with the cauliflower filling.
- Place the dish in the oven for 40 to 45 minutes, until the peppers are soft and the filling is crispy.
- Serve with fresh cilantro and a dollop of vegan yogurt.