Santa Fe Roasted Stuffed Peppers with Cashew Mozzarella

This delicious, nutrient-dense dish is reminiscent of the smoky, spicy Mexican food typically cooked in Santa Fe, New Mexico.  It’s such a simple, low-carb meal filled with savory sautéed vegetables like mushrooms, carrots, protein-rich quinoa and black-eyed peas – and the cashew mozzarella ties it all together.  It’s surprisingly easy to turn cashews into flavorful, melty, gooey, plant-based “mozzarella.”

This dish serves as a colorful entree in any lunch or dinner table, and it’s guaranteed to impress guests.

The stuffed-pepper idea is also quite versatile — you can substitute the stuffing ingredients in this recipe with cauliflower fried rice and vegan ground beef/sausage … or cheesy spinach … lentil and quinoa … Mediterranean stuffing (wild rice, raisins, herbs, lemon and walnuts with Greek yogurt) … or the old standby stuffing — cheese and broccoli.

INGREDIENTS

For the Peppers:

4 bell peppers, cored and seeded, tops removed and set aside
1/2 cup uncooked quinoa, rinsed
1 cup water and a pinch of salt
1 tablespoon olive oil (or more for peppers)
1 onion, diced
3/4 cup carrots, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 cups mushrooms, sliced
1 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon coriander
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon oregano
3/4 cup frozen corn
1 15-ounce can black-eyed peas, rinsed and drained
1 1/2 cups vegetable broth, low sodium
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 teaspoon sea salt, more to taste
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

For the Cashew Mozzarella:

1/4 cup raw cashews, soaked in water 3-4 hours
1 cup unsweetened almond milk, hot
2 tablespoons (plus 1 teaspoon) tapioca starch
1 teaspoon nutritional yeast
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar or lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon cayenne

DIRECTIONS

To Prepare the Peppers:

Preheat oven to 400°F.  Brush a little oil inside each pepper.  Next, sprinkle them with salt and freshly ground pepper.  Place cut-side down in a lined 9×13-inch baking dish. Roast until peppers are slightly tender, about 15 minutes.  Remove from oven and set aside.

To Make the Stuffing:

In a medium pot, cook the quinoa with 1 cup of water.  Add a pinch of salt to the water. This usually takes about 15 minutes. Set aside

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat.  Add onion and sauté until translucent, about 5-6 minutes.  Add carrots and sauté until softened, about 8-10 minutes. Add garlic, cook 1-2 minutes.  Add mushrooms and cook until softened, 4-5 minutes more.

Add the spices, and stir well to combine. Now, add the cooked quinoa, beans, and corn.  Stir in the vegetable broth, tomato paste, salt, and pepper. Combine well – and add salt or pepper to taste.  Cook for another 5-8 minutes, then remove from heat and set aside.

To Make the Cashew Mozzarella:

Drain soaked cashews and discard water.  Place all ingredients into a blender. Blend until smooth, about 1-2 minutes.

Pour mixture into a small pot and place over medium heat.  Stir often, so it doesn’t stick or burn. Scrape the sides and bottom, as needed.  When the “cheese” starts to thicken up, turn on the heat to medium-low. When the mixture becomes gooey and thick, remove from heat.  This whole process should take about 5 minutes.

To Prepare:

1)  Divide stuffing mixture evenly among bell peppers, gently packing it down and making sure to fill each pepper to the brim.  Spoon a dollop of cheese on top of each stuffed pepper.

2)  Place the previously set aside tops on each pepper and arrange them upright in 9×13-inch lined baking dish. Bake at 400°F until heated through, about 15-20 minutes.

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