Last year I bought the book ‘Strong’ by Zanna van Dijk. It is a really good book for anyone that is interested in learning more about fitness, weight-lifting exercises, nutrition and how to get the right mindset to live a balanced, healthy lifestyle. One of the recipes that I have really enjoyed cooking from that book was the ‘Spicy Beef Stuffed Peppers’. I have always liked the idea of cooking stuffed peppers, but I feared it would be too complicated for me. How would I cut and core the peppers, how would I juggle the pots and pans together with the oven and get all the timing right? But one day I just decided to go for it, and it actually all turned out pretty well and tasted great. Once my diet became mainly plant-based I soon realised that I didn’t actually need to stop cooking recipes like this, I just needed to make some adjustments to replace the minced meat for beans, lentils or soya mince. I haven’t yet tried these peppers with soya mince as I haven’t yet found it in my local shops in Italy – if anyone knows an Italian supermarket that sells it, please let me know in the comments below! I tend to serve these peppers with a side of quinoa or rice, but you can also add that to the stuffing – just cook the rice/quinoa at the same time you are cooking the bean and vegetable sauce, and then mix them together before filling the peppers. I also sometimes add a dollop of guacamole on top for an extra dose of healthy fats.
If any of you are joining me for Veganuary, this will hopefully give you another recipe idea to add to your plant-based meal repertoire!
Ingredients (serves 2*)
Half an onion
1 medium sized carrot (I don’t always add this, but I had one in the fridge that I needed to use up)
1 medium sized courgette
1 400 g tin chopped tomatoes
2 tablespoons of tomato puree
1 400 g tin of beans (I tend to use black beans as kidney beans make me bloat – whatever you use, just make sure you rinse them.)
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon chili pepper
Salt and pepper to taste
Preheat the oven on to 200°C.
Cut peppers in half, leaving the stalk on one side and then cut out the middle and remove all the seeds.
Chop and finely dice all of the vegetables (Note: you will probably want to chop them smaller than the size I did, especially the carrots as they will be too crunchy otherwise!).
Put the peppers on a baking tray, spray with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Pop them into the preheated oven for 20-25 minutes.
Whilst the peppers are cooking, start to make the filling. Heat some oil in a saucepan (the quantity is at your discretion!) and add the onion and fry for a couple of minutes. Add the spices and leave to fry for a few more minutes and then add the chopped vegetables, the tins of chopped tomatoes and beans and the tomato puree. Bring to the boil and then simmer for about 15-20 minutes (or until the veggies are soft).
When the peppers are ready, remove from the oven and put them aside. Leave the oven turned on.
When the filling is ready, spoon it into the peppers and then put them back in the oven for another 5-10 minutes or so.
* My partner has a big appetite and tends to eat 2 peppers, whereas I will have 1 pepper and then often we will share the last one. If you find there are too many, just pop the leftovers in the fridge and have them for lunch the next day.