Oh look, it’s the first Monday of the month. Do you know what that means? It’s time for the Secret Recipe Club again! (On a slightly related note, where the hell did February go? It feels like the past four weeks just zoomed by at light speed.)
My SRC assignment for this month is Melissa, who blogs over at I Was Born to Cook. The blog’s name is a reference to Melissa’s Greek and Italian roots, and if the looooooong list of recipes in her Recipe Box is anything to go by, she ‘s doing a pretty bang-up job of living up to that name.
As usual, picking just one recipe was a challenge. There were tons of delicious-looking treats that caught my eye as I browsed around Melissa’s blog, but after last month’s Nutella Granola pig-out (and with a wedding dress just 3 months away… eep!), I was determined to make something healthy this month.
Lucky for me, Melissa has quite a few healthy meals in her repertoire, and I ended up spending a little while debating between the Mexican Egg White Omelets, the Blueberry Multigrain Pancakes, the Baked Quinoa with Chicken Sausage and Spinach, and the Chipotle Turkey Meatloaf.
In the end, though, it was these Meatless Mexican Stuffed Peppers – a vegetarian stuffed peppers recipe with a filling of brown rice, black beans and corn – that really caught my attention.
I’m happy to report these were a huge hit. They’re a hearty vegetarian main dish that is pretty much a meal on its own, though I ended up serving mine with a simple salad of baby spinach just to round things out.
While the original version looked plenty delicious, I did make a few small tweaks to suit our tastes – I used fresh cilantro instead of dried, added a cup of tomato puree for a saucier filling, used frozen corn instead of canned, added a dash of hot sauce to give it some oomph, and kept the peppers whole instead of slicing them in half.
Next time, I might also parboil the peppers for 3-5 minutes before stuffing, since they did come out a little crunchy even after half an hour in the oven. Other than that, though, these were pure perfection.
And did I mention how super-easy they were, too? The peppers could easily be filled a day or two ahead of time, and then popped into the oven for a quick weeknight meal. (Or to setup a photo shoot, which may or may not be what I did here.)
After wolfing down a couple of these peppers, I’ve come to two conclusions – Melissa was definitely born to cook, and these peppers were made to be devoured.
Now it just remains to be seen if I can lay off the treats long enough to fit into that wedding dress! :)
- 6 medium-sized bell peppers (red or green)
- 2½ cups cooked brown rice
- 1 tbsp canola oil
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 can (540 ml) black beans, drained and rinsed
- 1½ cups frozen corn niblets
- 1 cup tomato puree
- 2 tsp chili powder
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- 2 tbsp chopped fresh cilantro
- Hot sauce to taste (optional)
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 1½ cups shredded cheddar cheese
- Preheat oven to 375F.
- Start by preparing the peppers. Slice the top off each pepper about 1" from the stem end, then remove any seeds or ribs left inside. If any of the peppers are a little crooked, slice a little off the bottom until they stand up straight. Arrange cut side up in a baking dish, and set aside.
- Next, make the filling. In a large skillet set over medium-high heat, heat the canola oil. Add the onion and garlic in canola oil, and saute for 5-7 minutes or until soft. Stir in the rice, beans, corn, tomato puree, chili powder and cumin, and continue cooking for 5 minutes or until everything is heated through.
- Remove from heat and stir in the cilantro, then season to taste with hot sauce, salt and pepper. Spoon the rice mixture into the peppers, making sure not to pack too tightly.
- Bake in preheated oven for 25-30 minutes or until peppers are tender. Sprinkle the tops with cheese and continue baking for 5 minutes longer, or until the cheese is melted and bubbly. Serve right away.