People are really good at forgetting the “bad” parts. I know this because each year, as one season fades into another, I am incredibly psyched for what lies ahead. I feel un-American just typing the next few words…but I was ready for summer to be over the first day it hit 90 degrees – which dates my intolerance back to, what, July?
And like clockwork, come January, when it’s been below 30 for a day or two and I’m staring at another two months of chill, I will tell you that summer is going to be the best. Because at this point, I will have conveniently forgotten what a pile of NYC garbage smells like when left to roast on an August sidewalk. Or, better yet, what it feels like to hit the wall of thick heat each morning as I walk onto the subway platform, sweat dripping down my back in work clothes.
It’s September and I literally cannot wait to bake and roast things with my windows cracked, chilled to the extent that I need a sweatshirt. I am even looking forward to breaking out the parka. (?! I KNOW)
When I say “literally cannot wait”, I mean it. Despite temperature in the mid 80’s, I opted for a dish that requires a bit of roasting – just enough to heat my poorly air conditioned apartment to match the temperature outside. But even as I sit here, still sweaty, I will tell you it was worth it!
These little purses of flavor are healthy, gluten free, dairy free and soy free. No tofu crumbles subbing for meat. You can feel good about every single bite. And they taste mighty delicious to boot!
5 – 7 large bell peppers (I used five and had leftover filling for at least another pepper)
1 cup quinoa, cooked in 2 cups vegetable broth, set aside
3/4 cup uncooked lentils
1 10 oz package of sliced white mushrooms, rinsed
4 roma tomatoes, rinsed
1 medium yellow onion
Olive oil, salt, pepper, and cumin
Optional: cayenne powder
Place the uncooked lentils into a pot with a cup and a half of water. Bring to a boil, cover, and lower to a simmer. The lentils should cook in roughly the same time it takes to cook rice or quinoa.
Meanwhile, prepare your peppers by slicing off the stems and de-seeding both the stem inside and the inside of the main body of the pepper. Set aside.
Using a large knife, chop your raw mushrooms into little pieces. The goal here is to make them feel almost like bits of meat crumbles once cooked.
As your lentils are finishing cooking, add the mushrooms and a tablespoon or two of olive oil into the same pot. Add salt and pepper, stir, and cook both together until the mushrooms are softened.
Preheat your oven to 350. Combine the mushroom and lentil mix with your quinoa and stir thoroughly.
Dice up all of the tomatoes and onion and saute together for 10-15 minutes, until the tomatoes have cooked down into more of a sauce and the onions are glassy.
Add this mixture to your quinoa as well, and stir once more. Add a few shakes of salt and pepper and cumin, as well as some cayenne powder for spice.
In a large baking dish, like a Pyrex or a deep tray, pour a few tablespoons of olive oil into the bottom. Take each pepper and rub it around the bottom of the dish, coating the exterior with olive oil. Place all of the peppers, open side up, on the dish. Place the stems on the dish as well.
Fill each pepper to the top with the quinoa mix and use a spoon to flatten the tops, then pop the tray into the oven and bake for 20-30 minutes.
Remove once the edges are browning a bit and the peppers seem to have softened. Serve warm!