Friday, July 8, 2011

Stuff it.

You know that feeling when you do something bad, but no one really knows you did something bad? That uneasy feeling that tucks itself down in your gut-- almost ignorable, but ultimately undeniable? The pivotal moment when the mounting guilt of your flub makes you wanna pop like a pregnant woman at yoga?

Okay, okay. Maybe I don't feel that bad. But I do feel a little guilty. Sigh...

This recipe was supposed to go up on Father's Day. Yeah, may-jah fail.

A hundred bucks says you're rolling your eyes at my anti-climatic confession. However, in my vain effort to be consistent, reliable, punctual and legit, I've thrown my little blog to the wayside.

The upside is that being late to the party makes this recipe is no less delicious, just slightly less... festive.

Hopefully, after you (and your dad) make this, you will forgive me for taking so darn long to get it to you. And Dad will absolve you of any faults of Father's Day past. Because although the Scooby-Doo tie you gave him in the fifth grade was funny at the time, he's been waiting for a redeeming gift to wipe your slate clean.
Before baking...

Dad-approved Stuffed Peppers
Makes approximately 2 cups of filling, enough for 6-8 portions

[1] Large bell pepper per serving

[1] package Quinoa & Whole Grain Brown Rice mix (I used Seeds of Change organic brand)
[1/2] cup chopped onion
[1] medium zucchini, quartered and chopped
[2] tsp salt

[3/4] cup textured vegetable protein
[1] tsp olive oil
[2] tbsp teriyaki
[1] tsp dried basil
[1] cup vegetable stock
[1] tsp chili spice
[1] tsp cumin
[4] oz Sam Adam's Summer Ale
[2] ears corn, cut off the cob
[1/4] cup shredded veg. cheese

Preheat oven to 350ºF. 

Over medium heat, sauté olive oil, chopped onion, zucchini, 1 teaspoon of salt and cracked pepper. Cook until vegetables are tender and lightly browned. Set aside. 

In the same skillet, add textured vegetable protein, stock and spices. Allow the TVP to completely absorb the liquid, cooking for about 10 minutes on medium/low heat. 

Once the pan starts to brown, deglaze with beer and stir up any brown bits that formed on the bottom of the pan. Cook for another 5 minutes until the beer has absorbed. 

Make quinoa/rice blend according to package instructions. (Mine only took 90 seconds!) Then add rice, corn, cheese and TVP to the cooked vegetables and stir to combine. Season with more salt and pepper, if needed.

In a small dish, combine ingredients for the topping.

Cut the tops off each pepper, then fill with about 1/4 cup of filling. Top with about 1 tablespoon of the Panko topping and drizzle each pepper with a splash of extra virgin olive oil.

Bake for 20 minutes until the tops are golden brown.

What can I say? Dad loved this one! The subtle flavor of the beer and the spices, plus the downright heartiness of the filling make it a winner for hungryman and vegan appetites alike. It's a healthy meal, and Dad won't look like a sissy enjoying it (heck, he might not even know it's meatless).

A few words of advice: the beer is key in this recipe. Got it? Hm, I'll repeat that for the skeptics. Do -- not -- omit -- beer. And while you're at it, use something with a little character. This should be a no-brainer, we're cookin' for Dad, after all! 

Moreover, the TVP (evidently we're on a nickname basis) doesn't have much flavor to it, which means you have free reign to heavily season. It also has a really similar texture to ground meat, but if you're not ready to take the crunchy plunge, another protein would work fine. Just don't tell PETA that I said that-- I'd like to continue my membership. 

(P.S. Look out for my Fourth of July recipes sometime in August... No, but really.)