Monday, July 10, 2006

Black Beans in Bell Peppers

If you are thinking about becoming a vegetarian, the easiest way to do it is to make lots of Mexican food. Mexican vegetarian food is always a hit in our house. It is very easy and very healthy - lots of beans and stuff.

We've been looking for a good stuffed pepper recipe, and this one seemed to fit well. And since it's a Mexican dish, that seemed to indicate that we would like it a lot.

My changes: I added some sliced green onion to the filling. I used a Mexican blend of cheeses from Trader Joe's (cheddar, queso blanco, jack, something else), I threw in a bit of cayenne pepper, and I didn't roast the peppers before filling them.

We liked this very much. It was easy to make, although semi-time consuming. I wouldn't make it on a week night, unless I made the filling ahead of time. I bet they would freeze nicely though, to make at a later time. I will definitely make this again.

Black Beans in Bell Peppers
from The Essential Vegetarian Cookbook by Diana Shaw, pg 368

Do ahead: You can make the filling up to 3 days in advance. Refrigerate until ready to use.

2 tsp canola or vegetable oil
1 large white onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 jalapeno pepper or Anaheim chili, cored, seeded, and minced
1/4 cup minced fresh cilantro
2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp crumbled dried oregano
2 tsp red white vinegar
2 cups cooked black beans, drained and rinsed
1/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 large firm red bell pepper, roasted and peeled
1 large firm yellow bell pepper, roasted and peeled

Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Squirt a shallow baking dish with nonstick spray or lightly grease with unsalted butter.

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat, swirling the pan to coat the bottom. Add the onion, garlic, jalapeno or Anaheim, cilantro, cumin, chili powder, and oregano, and saute, stirring often, until the onion softens, about 8 minutes. Stir in the vinegar and beans. Reduce the heat to medium-low, cover the skillet, and cook, stirring often, until the beans are very tender, about 20 minutes. Using the back of a wooden spoon, mash the beans.

Transfer to a mixing bowl, and stir in the cheddar and Parmesan cheese. Fill each pepper half with an equal amount of the bean mixture and place in the prepared baking dish. Cover loosely with foil and bake until set, about 20 minutes. Remove the foil and return the peppers to the oven to brwon the tops, about 5 minutes more. Serve with salsa.

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