Read Related Article: Cheese, Glorious Cheese
Now that the temperatures are consistently chilly, I find myself looking for excuses to turn on my oven. Here’s a great one, a modern Mediterranean and vegetarian spin on an old favorite. Add a side salad and you have a complete and healthy meal. (Yes, cheese is a healthy weight loss food!)
- 4 red bell peppers (other colors would work as well; I use red because they’re just too sexy)
- 1 cup thinly sliced mushrooms
- 1 quart baby spinach
- 2 teaspoons minced garlic
- 2 cups cooked brown rice or quinoa
- 1/4 cup scallions, thinly sliced
- 1/2 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
- 1 cup part skim ricotta cheese or non-fat cottage cheese
- 1/4 cup parmesan
- 1/2 cup mozzarella
- freshly ground black pepper
- non-stick spray or olive oil
- Cut the tops off the peppers, clean out the seeds and membranes, and trim the bottoms to make them flat and stable (if necessary), being careful to not cut a hole all the way through.
- Saute the mushrooms until just barely cooked; remove to a mixing bowl.
- Saute the spinach and garlic until wilted, then remove to the bowl of a food processor.
- Add the rice or quinoa, the scallions, the balsamic vinegar, and the freshly ground black pepper to the mushrooms.
- Add the ricotta or cottage cheese, parmesan, and half the mozzarella to the bowl of the food processor. Puree the contents of the food processor and add to the mushroom-grain mix. Stir well.
- Using non-stick spray or olive oil applied with your hands, lightly coat the outside of the peppers.
- Place in a baking dish and portion a quarter of the cheesey grain mixture in each pepper, resisting the urge to pack the filling down (densely packed filling requires more cooking time).
- Bake at 425 degrees for 15 minutes. Add the remaining mozzarella to the tops of the peppers and cook an additional 8 minutes.
Makes 4 Servings