Stuffed Vegetables

Looking at all the lovely vegetables available and on sale these days (for example green peppers (.97/lb at No Frills), pie pumpkins (.97/ea. at No Frills), and winter squash, I started thinking about stuffed vegetables. Which I have not made many of over my life of cooking, but I decided it was time to experiment.
My basic idea here was a vegan dish one-pot dish that could be adapted as a stuffing. I was looking for a decent amount of protein without meat. This recipe fits that description, based as it is on a classic rice-and-beans combination.

Here is the basic recipe, Lentils and Rice with Caramelized Onions, from How to Cook Everything by Mark Bittman:

Serves four, takes about 45 minutes

Ingredients:

3 T olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped, plus 1 large or 2 medium onions, halved and sliced
1 t minced garlic
1 t ground cumin
Salt and pepper
2 cups lentils, cleaned
About 6 cups stock (vegetable or meat), or water
1 cup rice, long or short grain
Chopped fresh parsley for garnish

Steps:

  1. Put 1 T oil in a large, deep saucepan over medium heat. When hot, add the chopped onion and cook until getting tender, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic, cumin, and some salt and pepper, and cook for 3 minutes more. Add the lentils, stir, and then add about 4 cups stop or water.
  2. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the lentils begin to get soft, about 20 minutes. Add enough stock or water to cover the lentils by about and inch of liquid. Stir in the rice. Cover, and turn heat to low.
  3. Put the remaining 2 T of oil in a medium skillet over medium-high heat. When the oil is hot, add the onion slices and cook, stirring frequently, until they are dark brown but not burned, about 15 minutes. Scoop out the cooked onions and let them drain on paper towels or brown paper while the rice and lentils finish cooking.
  4. Check the rice and lentils after 20 minutes. When they are both tender and the liquid is absorbed, it’s ready. If more cooking is needed, add more liquid if required, cover, and cook a few minutes more. If the rice and lentils are cooked and there is extra liquid, leave the cover off and let the liquid evaporate.
  5. Taste, adjust the seasoning, and serve, garnished with the caramelized onions and parsley.

Once I had gotten that recipe going, I roasted some eggplant, because that is what I had available to stuff. I simply quartered a large eggplant, drizzled on a little oil, and roasted it at 375 for about half and hour.
I then scooped out a little of the cooked eggplant from the middle to allow room for the lentils and rice.
After tasting my lentils and rice, I decided to jazz it up just a bit, with some canned tomatoes (2 cups), a couple of sliced mushrooms, and chopped walnuts (1/2 cup). I added these during the last few minutes of cooking, in step 4 above.
Then, after stuffing my eggplant quarters, I grated some cheese over the top and put them back in the oven (375) for 15 minutes for the final touch. When I took the picture above, I forgot to add on the caramelized onions! So I then put them on and took another photo. And regardless of looks, the final result was delicious!

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