I got this urge the other day to make something Mexican flavoured. At first I was thinking tacos, but we have had tacos several times in the past few months... and the next idea that came to mind was stuffed peppers. I haven't made these in a long time and I have never made Mexican inspired stuffed peppers. Generally, stuffed peppers seem quite fancy to me and they can be dressed up or down for any occasion with flexible stuffing ingredients. All in all, they are great for any dining experience!
Now, not everyone is going to have the palate for Mexican stuffed peppers, but not to worry! As I said, the ingredients are flexible, and you can use which ever spice base or stuffing base you like. Just stick to the ratios below and you should be good. You can add meat, chickpeas or lentils instead of black beans; experiment with different types of mushrooms...or no mushrooms; or some chopped nuts - pine or cashew nuts are always good. However, It is always my preference to include rice (or another grain) in the stuffing mix, it adds a nice texture to the stuffed peppers.
4 bell peppers
2 tablespoons coconut oil
1 yellow onion
5-6 cloves garlic
200g/7oz mushrooms (approx 2 cups chopped)
2 cups black beans
1 1/2 cups wild rice
1 1/2 cups diced tomatoes, drained
1/2 cup tomato juice (liquid reserved from drained can)
1/2 cup bell pepper
Toppings: Lime juice, cilantro, mozzarella cheese, chopped tomato and avocado
1 tablespoon cajun spice
1 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon paprika, chili flakes and marjoram (or thyme)
First things first - get all of your ingredients prepped and chopped. Start by preparing your rice and black beans (if you are using dried beans). You want these two ingredients to be cooked before you start cooking your stuffing for the peppers. Once these ingredients are prepped, start preparing your stuffing. Dice the onion, garlic and mushrooms. Next, get a can of diced tomatoes, drain it, reserving the liquid for later use. Get your spices handy (if you like you can measure them out before hand - I usually just eye-ball the measurements directly into the pan!). Lastly, chop the tops off your four peppers and gut them (I dice the extra pepper flesh that is around the stem and add it to my stuffing mixture).
Pre-heat oven to 400°F.
Set the burner to high, heating the frying pan with the oil. Once hot, reduce the heat to medium/high. Put the onion, garlic and mushrooms in the pan. Stir and add your spices. Continue to stir this mixture occasionally until the onions are translucent and the mushrooms have cooked down (15-20 minutes). Next add the tomatoes and juice. Reduce heat to low and continue to stir occasionally for an additional 15 minutes. After this, mix in the diced peppers. Now you are ready to fill the peppers and put them in the oven. Ensure you have a pan with edges that your pepper can be baked in (I lined an 8x8 inch glass pan with 2-3 inch sides with tin-foil). Place your peppers in the pan then fill each, using a spoon, press the stuffing into the peppers (each pepper can have stuffing heaping out of the top). Lightly, cover the peppers with tin-foil. Bake for 1 - 1 1/2 hours (or once peppers have softened).
I topped my peppers with a slice of buffalo mozzarella cheese and allowed it to melt for the last couple minutes of cooking. Once cooked, you may top with any desired topping ingredients. I used avocado, tomato and lime juice...cilantro would be nice but I did not have this on hand! Enjoy!