Festive red and green bell peppers can bring some healthy holiday cheer to your table this year! Stuffing and baking fresh vegetables is a culinary tradition found all over the world, and this recipe shines with the sunny flavors of the Italian Mediterranean, where vibrant veggies and fresh herbs are cornerstones of the region’s cuisine. In this recipe, a flavorful Longève and brown rice stuffing is run through with handfuls of fresh parsley and mint, toasted pine nuts and golden raisins and used to fill beautiful red and green bell peppers. The magic happens in the oven, where the peppers become tender and sweet, and take on the flavors of the stuffing. The pepper’s natural juices mingle with tomato, olive oil, herbs and garlic to produce a wonderful pan sauce to be spooned over the peppers at the table. A dusting of salty Pecorino Romano (or your favorite grated cheese or cheese alternative) is like a fresh blanket of snow, which enhances the flavor of the dish and rouses the holiday spirit.
1.5 cups (2 oz) Longève Original Plant-based Protein Crumbles
6 Tbsp. olive oil, divided
1 large onion, minced (about 2 cups)
4 large cloves garlic, minced
¼ tsp. red pepper flakes (or more to taste)
1 tsp. salt
½ tsp. black pepper
1 small zucchini, grated
1 14-oz can diced tomatoes
2 cups cooked brown rice
½ cup chopped Italian parsley
¼ cup chopped fresh mint
¼ cup pine nuts, lightly roasted
¼ cup golden raisins (optional)
2 large red bell peppers
2 large green bell peppers
Additional olive oil, as needed
Pecorino Romano cheese (or vegan parmesan), if desired
Combine Longève crumbles and ¾ cup hot water in a small bowl and set aside to rehydrate for five minutes.
Heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add minced onion and cook for 2 – 3 minutes, stirring frequently, until just beginning soften. Add rehydrated Longève crumbles and cook for an additional 5 – 8 minutes until mixture begins to brown.
Add the 3 additional tablespoons of olive oil, minced garlic, red pepper flakes, salt, pepper and grated zucchini. Stir and cook for 2 – 3 minutes. Remove from heat and transfer to a large mixing bowl to cool.
Meanwhile, strain diced the diced tomatoes, reserving the juice. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Add the strained tomatoes and cooked brown rice to the mixing bowl along with the chopped parsley and mint, toasted pine nuts and golden raisins. Mix well to combine, taste and add additional salt or pepper, if desired.
Wash and dry peppers and slice in half lengthwise. Carefully scoop out and discard the seeds and ribs from peppers. Place pepper halves in a heavy casserole or baking dish and drizzle with olive, turning the peppers to coat inside and out.
Fill peppers with the stuffing mixture and arrange neatly in baking dish. Add reserved tomato juice to bottom of baking dish, and drizzle all with additional olive oil, if desired for extra richness.
Cover the baking dish tightly with foil and place in preheated oven. Bake for 45 – 50 minutes, remove foil and continue baking for an additional 15 – 20 minutes, or until peppers have softened and beginning to brown.
Let cool slightly before topping with grated cheese and serve as a side dish or vegetarian main course.