As the holidays approach, this tempting, hearty entrée is especially well-suited to a party, and the festive presentation will grace the table at any holiday celebration. Choose the color of peppers accordingly: orange for Halloween, yellow for Thanksgiving, red and green for Christmas, or red for Valentine’s Day.
Makes 6 servings
• 1 cup quinoa, rinsed thoroughly
• 2 cups vegetable broth
• 4 large bell peppers (or 6 medium), any color or a combination of colors
• 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
• 1 jar (about 25 ounces) marinara sauce, as needed
• 1 can (15 ounces) black beans, drained and rinsed
• 6 ounces cremini or white button mushrooms, chopped
• 1 onion, chopped
• 1⁄4 cup toasted wheat germ, plus more as needed
• 2 cloves garlic, chopped
• 1 teaspoon dried basil
1. Put the quinoa and broth in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. De crease the heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer for about 15 minutes, until the water is absorbed and the quinoa is soft but not mushy. Let cool slightly. Transfer to a bowl, cover, and refrigerate for 2 to 24 hours.
2. When ready to assemble the stuffed peppers, preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
3. Slice off the top 1⁄2 to 3⁄4 inches of each pepper and set aside (these tops will be used to “cap” the peppers later). Seed the peppers.
4. Stir the oil into 1⁄2 cup of the marinara sauce. Spread the mixture in the bottom of a deep casserole large enough to hold all the peppers snugly so they remain upright during baking.
5. Set aside 1⁄4 cup of the remaining marinara sauce. Mix the quinoa with the beans, mushrooms, onion, wheat germ, garlic, basil, and half of the remaining marinara sauce. Stir until well combined, adding more marinara sauce, a couple of tablespoons at a time, until the mixture is moist but not soupy. If the mixture does get a little soupy, simply add more wheat germ.
6. Spoon one-quarter of the mixture into each pepper, mounding it if need be. Spoon 1 tablespoon of the reserved marinara sauce over each pepper, then top with the pepper tops. (The stuffing will peek out between the pepper tops and bottoms.) Carefully position the peppers in the casserole so they will remain upright while baking.
7. Cover and bake for 45 to 60 minutes, until the sauce is bubbly and the peppers are slightly tender but not mushy. Serve immediately or let cool for 15 minutes before serving. Put the sauce that has accumulated at the bottom of the casserole in a gravy boat or small bowl to pass at the table.
Laura Theodore is a 2014 TASTE award-winning television personality, radio host, vegan chef, cookbook author and recording artist. She is author of Jazzy Vegetarian Classics: Vegan Twists on American Family Favorites and Jazzy Vegetarian: Lively Vegan Cuisine Made Easy and Delicious. Laura is the on-camera host, writer and co-producer of the popular cooking show, Jazzy Vegetarian and hosts the weekly podcast radio show, Jazzy Vegetarian Radio.
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