Have you ever wondered what a love story would look like when a down-home southern belle falls in love with a hippie rebellious vegetarian dude? Maybe you have, maybe you haven’t. But that’s basically this cookbook, Southern Girl Meets Vegetarian Boy. It is so stinking adorable! It’s the love story between two unlikely people, told through charming stories and recipes. And what’s even cooler is that for a lot of her recipes, Damaris includes both a vegetarian version and an omnivore version!
I picked the savory TVP stuffed peppers to make – I was tempted to make the turkey version, but I wanted to try out the vegetarian version and see how tasty it was. Wow – all of those years that Damaris spent learning how to cook with vegetarian proteins so she could share her southern classics with her love was totally worth it! These TVP stuffed bell peppers are way more flavorful and delicious than I was expecting. Because if you have ever tried TVP (textured vegetable protein, made from soybeans), you’ll know it’s not the most flavorful thing in the world. It has a slightly more detectable taste than cardboard. But by adding all the seasonings and by hydrating the TVP in stock (instead of water), it truly brings out a unique and complex flavor that is quite delicious. So whether you’re vegetarian or not, I think these TVP stuffed bell peppers are worth a go. You might just be surprised at how much you don’t miss the meat 😉
I made a few teensy weensy changes to the recipe when I made it.
– I used homemade chicken bone broth, instead of vegetable broth, to hydrate the TVP as well as to cook the brown rice.
– I used cilantro, instead of parsley, because that’s what I had in my fridge. And it still turned out totally delicious.
– Finally, I had no clue what Fontina cheese was, but I had Mozzarella balls on hand. Say hello to an uneducated substitution :p If you’re like me and a total newbie to the fine world of cheese, Fontina cheese is a semi-soft cheese that melts really well and is often described as having an “earthy” flavor with a “nutty sweetness”. According to the interweb, a better substitution for Fontina cheese in this dish would be Provolone. But alas, no harm, no foul. I ate every last bit with delight.
Also, the brown rice needs to be cooked BEFORE you do anything else, so get it started early! Then you won’t be hangry and grumpy like me, since I totally did not read thoroughly the prep that was required.
TVP Stuffed Peppers
from Southern Girl Meets Vegetarian Boy by Damaris Phillips
– 1 1/2 cups TVP (textured vegetable protein)
– 1 cup vegetable stock [I used homemade bone broth]
– 1 cup COOKED brown rice
– 1 (14-oz) can fire-roasted diced tomatoes, drained
– 4 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
– 1 1/2 tsp kosher salt
– 1 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
– 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley, plus more for garnish
– 2 tsp fresh thyme, chopped
– 4 large red, orange or yellow bell peppers, halved, with the tops and seeds removed
– 2 oz Fontina cheese, sliced
– Cook your brown rice.
– Preheat the oven to 400 F.
– In a large bowl, warm up the stock in the microwave (~ 1 minute).
– Add 1 cup of the TVP to the hot stock and let it sit for ~ 5 minutes, to absorb all the liquid.
– Add the remaining 1/2 cup of TVP, the cooked brown rice, tomatoes, 3 Tbsp of the olive oil, 1 tsp salt, 1 tsp black pepper, the parsley and the thyme. Stir everything to combine.
– Rub the bell pepper halves on the outside and the inside with the remaining 1 Tbsp of olive oil. Season the insides of the bell peppers with salt and pepper. Place in a 8-inch square casserole dish.
– Spoon the filling into the pepper halves. Press the filling down into the peppers and fill to the top.
– Place some cheese on top of each pepper.
– Bake until each pepper is softened but still holds its shape and when the cheese is golden brown, ~ 35 to 40 minutes.
– Garnish with chopped parsley and enjoy! 😀
I ended up with a ton of leftover stuffing that didn’t fit into the bell peppers. Probably in part because I only got 3 instead of 4… oops. So I packed the leftover filling into a separate casserole dish, baked it for the same amount of time next to the stuffed peppers in the oven, and ate it as a snack and extra helpings of the filling over the next few days. Yee-haw!