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Fancy Stuffed Peppers with Quinoa and Black Beans
Makes 6 servings
This tempting, hearty entrée is especially well-suited to fall and wintertime, and the festive presentation will grace the table at any holiday celebration. Choose the color of peppers accordingly: orange for Halloween, orange and yellow for Thanksgiving, red and green for Christmas, or red for Valentine’s Day.
1 cup quinoa, rinsed thoroughly
2 cups vegetable broth
6 bell peppers, any color or a combination of colors
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil (optional)
1 jar (about 25 ounces) marinara sauce, as needed
1 can (15 ounces) black beans, drained and rinsed
6 ounces cremini or white button mushrooms, chopped
1 onion, chopped
1⁄4 cup toasted wheat germ, plus more as needed
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 teaspoon dried basil
Put the quinoa and broth in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Decrease the heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer for about 15 minutes, until the water is absorbed and the quinoa is soft but not mushy. Let cool slightly. Transfer to a bowl, cover, and refrigerate for 2 to 24 hours.
When ready to assemble the stuffed peppers, preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
Slice off the top 1⁄2 to 3⁄4 inches of each pepper and set aside (these tops will be used to “cap” the peppers later). Seed the peppers.
Stir the optional oil into 1⁄2 cup of the marinara sauce. Spread the mixture in the bottom of a deep casserole large enough to hold all the peppers snugly so they remain upright during baking.
Set aside 1⁄4 cup of the remaining marinara sauce. Mix the quinoa with the beans, mush- rooms, onion, wheat germ, garlic, basil, and half of the remaining marinara sauce. Stir until well combined, adding more marinara sauce, a couple of tablespoonfuls at a time, until the mixture is moist but not soupy. If the mixture does get a little soupy, simply add more wheat germ.
Spoon one-sixth of the mixture into each pepper, mounding it if need be. Spoon 1 tablespoon of the reserved marinara sauce over each pepper,
then top with the pepper tops. (The stuffing will peek out between the pepper tops and bottoms.) Carefully position the peppers in the casserole so they will remain upright while baking.
Cover and bake for 45 to 60 minutes, until the sauce is bubbly and the peppers are slightly tender but not mushy. Serve immediately or let cool for 15 minutes before serving. Put the sauce that has accumulated at the bottom of the casserole in a gravy boat or small bowl to pass at the table
Velvety Carrot Soup
MAKES 4 to 6 SERVINGS
I love to serve this stunning, colorful soup as an elegant first course on a chilly night. However, it is also delicious served cold, making it suitable for any time of year. The vegetables are blended to produce a thick, smooth soup that’s low in calories and high in nutrition. It’s very tasty as is, but if you make it a day in advance and store it tightly covered in the refrigerator, the flavors will meld and develop even more. Just note that you may need to add a bit more broth or nondairy milk if you reheat the soup.
5 large carrots, peeled and coarsely chopped
3 medium white potatoes, peeled and coarsely chopped
1 cup unsweetened nondairy milk, plus more as needed
1 cup vegetable broth, plus more as needed
1 teaspoon brown sugar
1 teaspoon italian seasoning
1⁄2 teaspoon reduced-sodium tamari
Freshly ground pepper
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley, for garnish
Steam the carrots and potatoes until soft but not mushy, about 10 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl. Add the nondairy milk, broth, brown sugar, italian seasoning, and tamari and stir to combine.
Put half of the mixture in a blender and process until smooth. Pour into a soup pot. Repeat with the remaining mixture, then stir the two batches together.
Put the pot over medium-low heat and simmer, stirring often, until heated through, about 10 minutes, adding more broth or nondairy milk to achieve the desired consistency.
Season with salt and pepper to taste. To serve, ladle the soup into bowls. Garnish with the parsley if desired.
Makes 4 to 6 servings
In this appealing side dish, brown sugar adds the sweet, while the tamari provides the savory. It is a beautiful dish that will enhance any meal—and a great introduction to cooking kale, as it takes the mystery out of preparing this fantastically nutritious leafy green vegetable.
1 large bunch kale, stemmed, washed and very thinly sliced
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons brown sugar
2 teaspoons reduced-sodium tamari
4 teaspoons unsalted roasted sunflower seeds
Steam the kale until wilted and quite soft but still bright green, 15 to 20 minutes. Transfer to a medium bowl. Put the oil, brown sugar, and tamari in a small bowl and whisk to combine. Pour the mixture over the kale and toss until the kale is evenly coated. Sprinkle the sunflower seeds over the kale and toss lightly. Serve immediately.
Note: For a lower-calorie dish, use only 1 tablespoon of olive oil and increase the amount of tamari to taste.
Chocolate Ganache Pudding
Makes 4 servings
1 cup vanilla soymilk
5 ounces, (about 1 1/2 sweetened bars) vegan dark chocolate, finely chopped
2 teaspoons organic brown sugar
2 teaspoons unsweetened cocoa powder (for dusting, optional)
Heat the nondairy milk in a small saucepan over medium-low heat until steaming hot but not boiling.
Put the chocolate and brown sugar in a medium bowl. Slowly pour in the nondairy milk, about 1⁄3 cup at a time, and whisk vigorously after each addition until smooth and shiny.
Spoon the mixture into four tiny dessert bowls or espresso cups and refrigerate until set, at least 4 hours. To serve, place each cup on a small plate or saucer and sprinkle the pudding with about 1⁄2 teaspoon of the cocoa powder if desired.