[Smashy the Hammer] [An Aspiring Luddite]
I carry no phone
An aspiring Luddite
In a wired world.
[Jeff Berry]
Jeff Berry is an early adopter of the Internet and the Web, a late adopter of Twitter, and declines to adopt Facebook. With the death of Google+, he's experimenting with federated platforms. He admins a medievalist Mastodon instance, and can found on the PlusPora diaspora pod. He hates cell-phones.

Lenten Stuffed Peppers
or, if you'd rather: Vegan Stuffed Peppers
23 February 2012

Lent came early this year. Well, sort of. Our niece was visiting and she's vegetarian-verging-on-vegan, which is pretty close to medieval Lent, so we went with it.

Stuffed peppers are an old favorite, although usually with a sort of Mitteleuropian feel - often with sausage, rice and tomato sauce. Sort of like a stuffed cabbage, only with peppers. Which, I must confess, is a fairly typical treatment. However, they also work very well without the meat, especially if you avail yourself of some of the vegetable products often used as meat surrogates which are commonly available. Tofu would certainly work, but can leave you with a watery result. Textured Vegetable Protein, also called Textured Soy Protein, and often abbreviated as TVP or TSP is a better choice for a firmer filling. You could use any of the faux meats, too, but just using the TVP lets you set the seasoning to your own tastes.

My wife requested an Italian vibe, so I set the paprika aside ...

Lenten Stuffed Peppers

[Prepped Peppers]

Start by soaking the rice in the water for an hour or two. You could also pre-cook the rice, but I wanted just a touch of toothsome crunch in the mix for a textural contrast. After the rice has soaked, add everything else except the bread crumbs and the peppers themselves. At this point you can let the stuffing sit for a while. I recommend letting it sit at room temperature for a couple of hours, just to the let the flavors get comfortable with each other.

[Peppers] Cut your peppers in half. You can stuff any sort of pepper you'd like, of course. I used yellow bell peppers because they taste better than green ones. And they're pretty. Any not scorchingly hot pepper would work, though. Clean the seeds and ribs. Place into a baking dish, open side up. Stuff with the stuffing. I like to mound them up a bit, myself. If liquid has collected in the bottom of your stuffing bowl, distribute it more or less evenly into your peppers - remember, the rice isn't cooked yet and will need some liquid. if you have extra stuffing, put it into a ramekin. You could also just put around the peppers, but it's messy and doesn't serve up as nicely.

Put into a 350F oven for forty minutes. At that point, you can certainly serve and eat. However, if you turn on the broiler, sprinkle bread crumbs on the pepper and put them in until the tops are toasted, you not only get a nice crunchy finish, but it will also help to soak up any liquid the rice missed.

[Pepper with Crumbs]

As with most any recipe, this one admits of great variation. Changing up the seasonings can give the feel of an entirely different dish. Use some paprika, for instance, and some tomato sauce, juice or paste in and around the peppers and suddenly it's a hearty Balkan dish. Use more chiles and some cumin, top with salsa ... well, you get the idea.

© 2012 Jeff Berry
The Aspiring Luddite