I found myself in Boston recently with a gluten-intolerant wife, a best friend with Celiacs, three other besties plagued by vegetarianism, and a pescetarian brother. Like, come on, seriously? So I vowed to make some food that everyone would enjoy, and thus were born these vegetarian gluten-free stuffed peppers that actually tasted awesome, I promise. The fact that they tasted so great was, I'm sure, owing to the so so so so fresh local produce from our favorite Verrill Farms in Concord, Massachusetts, but the deliciousness was nonetheless basically a miracle because I was so so so so drunk (thank my brother for that) while I was inventing the recipe and cooking it. I don't even remember taking this picture, but it came out pretty nice I think. That fork is serious, am I right?
Anyway it's basically sacrilege for an Italian (I'm Italian btw) to make stuffed peppers without sausage or bread crumbs, but it had to be done. And the results? Great, because the saltiness of the sausage was completely replaced by Parmesan, and because the bulk of the sausage was replaced by savory vegetables which, when combined with butter and salt, kinda taste like the ghostly spirit of the shadow of something that once kind of resembled sausage. The end product is basically a cheesy carb-filled altogether fake healthy gooey saucefest, and I hope you all make it and tell me what you think.. But also come on, you're gonna love it.
Butter Count: 24 Tbsp
4 servings THIS SAUCE RECIPE
8 bell peppers
7 large white mushrooms, thinly sliced
8 Tbsp butter
1 large brown onion, chopped
1 large eggplant, peeled and cubed
2 zucchini, cubed
4 cloves garlic, minced
4 carrots, chopped
4 ribs celery, chopped
2 cups uncooked white rice
8 oz Parmesan cheese, grated
2 cups mozzarella, grated
16 fresh basil leaves, chiffonaded
1. Prepare 4 servings of sauce.
2. Remove the tops and seeds from the peppers. Remove the stems from the pepper tops and roughly chop the tops. Discard the stems and seeds.
3. Add the chopped pepper tops, sliced mushrooms, and butter to a large pot and heat over medium-high heat, stirring often, until the mushrooms have browned deeply on all sides.
4. Reduce the heat to low. Add the next 6 ingredients (through celery) to the pot and heat, stirring often, until the onions are translucent and the carrots are soft, about 1 hour.
5. While the vegetables cook, cook the rice in about 4 cups of water, covered in a pot or in a rice cooker according to the manufacturer's instructions.
6. Preheat the oven to 375F.
7. When the vegetables and rice are cooked, add the rice to the vegetable pot and mix all of the ingredients together thoroughly.
8. Add the eggs and Parmesan as well as about three servings of the sauce, and mix thoroughly. Season the mixture with salt and pepper, if needed.
NOTE: Add the sauce slowly while mixing all the ingredients together, until the rice and vegetable mixture is wet, but with no standing liquid. Reserve the rest of the sauce
9. Spread about 2 Tbsp sauce across the bottom of a deep baking dish. Add the vegetable rice mixture to the topped bell peppers (add as much as will fit) and place them in the baking dish.
10. Add about 2 Tbsp sauce to the top of each stuffed pepper and sprinkle the mozzarella evenly over all of them.
11. Add the rest of the vegetable rice mixture to the baking dish around the bottoms of the peppers, and top that with the remaining sauce. Bake about 45 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and brown on top.
12. Remove the peppers from the oven and sprinkle the basil evenly over the dish. Serve the peppers hot.
NOTE: Save the remaining vegetable rice mixture from the bottom of the dish and eat later for a snack, with a fried egg and some hot sauce on top.