Italian stuffed peppers get a vegan twist. These peppers use a homemade, yet simple, marinara sauce and are stuffed with zucchini, brown rice, walnuts, olives, and broccolini.
For the Sauce
- 2 28-oz cans of fire-roasted diced tomatoes
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1/4 teaspoon chili flakes
- 1 teaspoon salt
- heavy pinch black pepper
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
For the Peppers
- 6 peppers, cut in half from top to bottom, and seeded (to make 12 halves)
- 2 cups cooked brown rice
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 large shallot, diced
- 2 stalks celery, diced
- 3 medium zucchini, diced
- 1 1/2 cups finely chopped broccolini
- half a bunch kale, stems removed and finely chopped
- 1/2 cup toasted walnuts, finely chopped
- 1/2 cup finely chopped black olives
- 1 generous handful each chopped parsley and basil, plus more for garnish
For the Sauce:
- Start the sauce. Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a medium sauce pot. Once hot, add the garlic and saute until softened and fragrant. Add the canned tomatoes, salt, pepper, chili flake, bay leaf, and oregano. Bring to a simmer and simmer for about 40-45 minutes, until thickened.
- You can make your stuffing and prepare your peppers during this time.
- Once done, discard bay laf and puree about 3/4 of the sauce in a blender until creamy. Return to pot and mix with remaining chunky sauce.
For the Peppers:
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
- Cook brown rice and set aside 2 cups (from about 3/4-1 cup dry).*
- Prepare peppers. Cut peppers in half from top to bottom. Seed peppers and brush with olive oil and salt and pepper. Lay peppers cut side down on a foiled or greased baking sheet and cook in the oven for 15 minutes. Remove and cool.
- Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a deep saute pan. Once hot, add the shallot, celery, and garlic, season with sea salt and pepper and cook until softened, but not browned, about 5 minutes. Next, add the broccolini and cook until crisp-tender, about 3-5 minutes. Add in zucchini and kale and cook 5 minutes more, until the zucchini is tender and the kale is wilted.
- Lastly, add in the walnuts and olives and heat through. Adjust mixture for seasoning by adding more salt if necessary and set aside.
Assemble the Peppers:
- Once the sauce is done, spread an even layer on the bottom of a large baking dish.
- Place the peppers cut side up.
- In a large bowl, mix the vegetable mixture with the brown rice, 1/2 of the sauce, and a large handful each of chopped parsley and basil.
- Stuff the peppers well with the mixture.
- Cover the peppers in additional sauce, reserving some sauce for serving.
- Cover the baking dish with foil and bake the peppers for 20-25 minutes, until bubbly and tender.
- Serve with additional sauce and a generous sprinkling of fresh herbs and a touch of sea salt.
*As a time saver, use organic frozen brown rice from Trader Joe’s or Whole Foods. Cook according to directions and measure out 2 cups.