Be My Valentine - Show #403

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Stuffed Red Pepper Boats

Makes 4 servings

1 ¼  cups short- or long-grain brown rice, rinsed

2  ¾  cups filtered or spring water

1/2 vegan bouillon cube, crumbled

1 ½  cups marinara sauce, plus more as needed

8 ounces cremini mushrooms, diced

2 heaping tablespoons capers, drained and rinsed

1½ tablespoons wheat germ, plus more as needed (see note)

2 sweet red bell peppers, halved lengthwise and seeded

Put rice, water, and crumbled bouillon cube in a medium sauce pan. Cover and cook over medium-low heat for 50 minutes or until the water has been absorbed. Remove from heat and fluff the rice with a fork. (see note) Cover and let stand for 5 to 10 minutes. 

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. 

Spread 3/4 cup marinara sauce in an even layer in the bottom of a casserole dish that is large enough to hold four pepper halves. Put the cooked brown rice, mushrooms, capers, 3/4 cup marinara sauce, and wheat germ in a large bowl. Stir to combine. If the mixture seems dry, add more marinara, 1/4 cup at a time.

Fill each pepper half with one-quarter of the rice mixture. Put the peppers in the prepared casserole dish. Tent the peppers with foil and bake for 40 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for another 5 to 10 minutes, or until the rice is slightly golden. Let the peppers rest for 10 minutes before serving.

Chef’s Note: Whole-grain bread crumbs, a gluten free variety of bread crumbs or oat bran may be used in place of the wheat germ.

Chef’s Note: Rice may be prepared up to 48 hours in advance and stored in the refrigerator until use.


 Leeks with Raisins

Makes 2 servings  


4 leeks, white and light green parts, cleaned thoroughly and thinly sliced (see note)

1/2 cup raisins

1/4 cup vegetable broth, plus more as needed

1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil (optional)

Sea salt, to taste

Freshly ground pepper, to taste

Put the leeks, raisins, vegetable broth, and olive oil (if using) in a medium skillet. Cover and cook over medium heat for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, adding more broth as needed if the leeks become dry. Cook until the leeks are soft and the liquid is mostly absorbed. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Serve immediately.


 Butternut Bisque

Makes 6 to 8 servings

6 cups cubed butternut squash (1-inch cubes)

4 cups cauliflower florets

½ cup chopped onion (about 1 small onion)

1 teaspoon Italian or all-purpose seasoning

2 apples, peeled and chopped

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

¼ teaspoon ground ginger

¼ teaspoon sea salt

2 ½ cups vegetable broth, plus more as needed

2 tablespoons maple syrup

Fit a steamer basket into a large pot with a tight-fitting lid. Add 2 inches of cold water then add the squash. Cover, bring to a boil, and steam for 7 minutes. Add the cauliflower and onion. Sprinkle with the Italian or all-purpose seasoning and steam for 20 minutes or until the squash and cauliflower are both very soft.

Put the squash mixture in a large bowl. Let cool for 15 minutes. Add the apples, cinnamon, ginger, and salt and stir to coat. Put half of the mixture in a blender. Add 1¼ cups vegetable broth and 1 tablespoon maple syrup and process until smooth. Pour into a soup pot. Put the second half of the squash mixture in the blender. Add the remaining 1¼ cups vegetable broth and 1 tablespoon maple syrup, and process until smooth. Add to the soup pot, and then stir the two batches together. If the soup seems too thick, add more vegetable broth to taste. Put the pot over medium-low heat, cover, and simmer, stirring often, until heated through, about 10 minutes. To serve, ladle the soup into bowls.

This soup may be made up to 24 hours ahead of time. If making in advance, let the soup cool after blending, then pour the cooled soup into an airtight container and refrigerate (see note).

Chef’s Note: To reheat the soup, pour it into a pot. If soup seems too thick add more vegetable broth, to taste. Cook for about 15 minutes over medium-low heat, stirring often, until heated through.


 Raspberry Fudge Truffles (Minis)

Makes 8 to 10 truffles

2 heaping tablespoons whole-fruit raspberry preserves

3 1/2 ounces vegan dark chocolate (snack bar, not unsweetened baking chocolate)

⅓ cup raisins

1 teaspoon raw unsweetened dried coconut flakes, for garnish (optional)

3 teaspoons unsweetened cocoa powder, for dusting 

Line a mini-muffin tin with 8 to 10 festive paper liners. Drain off any excess liquid from the raspberry preserves. Put the raspberry preserves in a large bowl. Melt the vegan chocolate in a double boiler over medium-low heat (see note).

Pour the melted chocolate into the raspberry preserves and stir until thoroughly combined. Fold in the raisins. Mound the mixture into the mini-muffin cups, dividing it evenly, using a small scoop. Top each truffle with a bit of coconut. Refrigerate for about 3 hours or until firm. Dust the truffles with cocoa powder. Serve chilled.