Posts Tagged 'bell pepper'

Turkish Stuffed Bell Peppers

We’re home from Portland and I miss it SO much already. It actually looked like Fall there!

On Saturday we woke up early to run over to my old high school. I did a timed mile and was 11 seconds faster than my last one (two weeks ago) with a 6:42. Yay!

I have so many great memories from that track.

After the run we met up with Kelsey and her husband for coffee! I’ve been internet-friends with her for about 3 years so it was awesome to finally meet in person.

We’ve never had much time in Portland to just get out and explore by ourselves, because our visits are usually short and there are so many people there to see. But this trip we made sure to leave some time open to check out some different neighborhoods.

Mike and I are pretty convinced that San Francisco has the best coffee of any city in America, but I know some people argue that Portland is better. We’d heard Stumptown was kind of overrated, so we went to Coffeehouse Northwest (19th and West Burnside) to see how it compared to our San Francisco favorites.

The lattes were amazing, and so was the ginger cookie.
Next we crossed the river and drove up to NE Alberta Street. There was pretty much nothing there when I was in high school, so it’s kind of crazy to see how much that neighborhood has changed.

I bought some yarn at Close Knit, an adorable yarn store with super friendly employees. My goal is to knit Mike a hat before I go back to work (a week from TODAY!)

I’ve professed my love for Bi-Rite Creamery a few times, but I think I have found my new favorite ice cream. Salt and Straw has so many great flavors. Mike got a scoop of pear with Rogue blue cheese (genius!) and I got a scoop of almond brittle with salted ganache.

As always, we ate way too much while we were in Portland, but it was a really fun trip that went by way too fast.

This week, I’m planning on cooking lots of healthy dinners like this. These are cute, flavorful, and not too heavy. I switched out white rice in favor of brown, which I soaked for a few hours so it would cook a little faster.

(adapted from Arabesque: A Taste of Morocco, Turkey, and Lebanon)

Black Bean Vegetable Soup

I never really found black bean soup appealing. It didn’t look good, it never really tasted good (unless it was topped with so much cheese and sour cream you couldn’t really tell what it was), and I never felt any kind of urge to make it until this recipe.

My throat has been sore pretty much since we got back from Portland and yesterday it was so bad I took the day off work. I felt really guilty leaving the kids with a sub, but since I feel a lot better today, I guess it was worth it. Instead of supervising labs and timing the mile run, my day can pretty much be summed up by this picture:

It’s awesome to be reading a book I actually want to read again, instead of forcing myself to keep reading something I have absolutely no interest in (no, I never finished Everything is Illuminated…I gave up).

So after a highly thrilling day of downing Chloraseptic drops, drinking tea, and falling asleep every 20 pages, I knew I needed a healthy dinner that wasn’t very demanding to cook. This was perfect, and it’s really healthy, too. Cumin, paprika, and oregano are the only spices, but with the vegetables sauteed in the first step, there’s an amazing warmth and depth of flavor. I’m a convert – I LOVE black bean soup now.

And today, I might even try to run again since my weekly total currently stands at an impressive 4.2 miles!

(adapted from Veggie Belly)

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 small yellow onion, chopped finely
2 small carrots, peeled and chopped finely
1 green bell pepper, chopped finely
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons cumin powder
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon dried oregano or Italian seasoning
2 cups cooked black beans, rinsed and drained
4 cups water
Salt to taste
chopped tomato, red onion, and green onion for garnish

Heat the oil in a dutch oven or large, heavy saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion, carrots, and bell pepper and cook for about 5 minutes, or until soft. Add the garlic and cook 2 minutes more.

Stir in the spices, beans, and water and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for about 30 minutes, or until the soup has thickened.

Serve topped with chopped tomato, red onion, and green onion.

Red Quinoa Salad with Lime Vinaigrette

After spending the weekend eating, drinking, and socializing in San Francisco, my to-do list was not looking very fun…

but I was REALLY excited to get back into the kitchen. Unfortunately for me, the cupboards were a little bare, so I knew a big shop was in order. I made my meal plan for the week, wrote up a grocery list, and grabbed tons of washed and ready-to-re-use jars and containers and headed to the co-op. I ADORE this place!

Bulk bins full of any grain, legume, and flour you could possibly want, an entire wall of different spices, and a great selection of soap and beauty products. Plus you can bring all your own containers and really cut down on your packaging consumption (Mike and I are obsessed with this concept right now).

The pantry staples I bought this week:
– Red Lentils
– Red Quinoa (for the first time ever!)
– Garbanzo beans
– Garbanzo flour
– Whole spelt flour
– Agave syrup
– Pumpkin seeds
– Nutritional yeast
– Millet

I was excited to try red quinoa for the very first time, and this recipe from Sassy Radish looked like a winner. I was a little dubious about the dried fruit, but it ended up being a subtle sweetness that played perfectly off the vinaigrette. I subbed pumpkin seeds for pine nuts and absolutely LOVED it. I think I’ll be buying a lot more red quinoa (which I probably couldn’t tell apart from regular quinoa in a blind taste test, but it’s really pretty!)

For a little extra protein, I heated up some black beans with onions, chipotle, and baby spinach and served it on the side.

(adapted from Sassy Radish)

1 1/2 cups red quinoa
3 cups water
1 yellow bell pepper, seeded and diced
3/4 cup dried fruit, diced (I used a mix of dried apricots and cherries)
1/3 cup pumpkin seeds

1 clove garlic, finely minced
zest of 2 limes
3 tbsp lime juice
2 Tbsp finely minced shallot
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp ground coriander
3 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 tsp salt

Bring the water to a boil in a medium saucepan. Stir in the quinoa and boil for about 15 minutes, or until the water is almost completely absorbed. Turn the heat off and cover with the lid for 5 minutes, then fluff with a fork and transfer to a large bowl to cool.

Whisk together all the dressing ingredients.

Toss the quinoa, bell pepper, dried fruit, and pumpkin seeds together, then mix in the dressing.

Black Eyed Pea Salad

Not being from the South, I don’t think I ate a single black eyed pea until a few months ago. I’m not jumping-up-and-down excited about them, but they’re not bad, and since we have a couple bags of them to use up, I’ve been trying to figure out what I can do with them. My search for recipes let me to Texas caviar, which appears to be just black eyed peas and diced vegetables in a vinegar dressing, served with tortilla chips.

I wanted to make a meal rather than an appetizer, so this is what I came up with. Meat-eaters would probably consider this a side, but I think it can hold its own as the main course of a light summer supper. The flavor improved a lot after a few hours in the fridge, so plan ahead. I’m sure frozen corn would work in a pinch, but now that we’re getting into peak corn season, it just makes sense to use it!

1 tbsp olive oil
2 ears of corn
3 cups cooked (or canned) black eyed peas
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 green bell pepper, diced
4 green onions, white and light green parts only, chopped
4 tbsp red wine vinegar
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tsp sugar
pinch or two cayenne pepper

Slice the kernels of corn off the ears. Heat 1 tbsp olive oil in a wide skillet, then add the corn and saute over medium-high until it’s tender. Transfer to a bowl and let cool.

Stir in the black eyed peas, red and green bell pepper, and green onion, and toss well.

To make the dressing, whisk together the 2 tbsp olive oil, red wine vinegar, sugar, cayenne, and salt and pepper to taste (a pinch or two of each). Pour over the salad, toss well, then let sit in the fridge for a few hours before serving. It’s even better the next day.

My favorite vegetable soup

veg soup

There’s something extraordinarily comforting about eating creamy soups when the weather gets cool. As a kid, I gravitated towards Campbell’s Cream of Asparagus with so many crushed Saltines in it that it basically solidified. These days I stay away from canned soups, but they’ve been replaced with something MUCH better.

The inspiration for this soup came from The New Moosewood Cookbook. I’ve made the recipe dozens of times, but have made quite a few of my own changes, adapting to whatever happens to be fresh at the farmer’s market or languishing in my refrigerator. It’s the perfect way to use whatever vegetables may be remaining from other recipes, and can be easily adjusted to feed a whole crowd or just you. It’s perfect with a green salad and big chunk of whole grain bread, and it will keep for a few days in the refrigerator with no ill effects.

I use 2% milk because it gives the soup a little more body than skim or 1% would. I’m not sure how soy or rice milk would work here, but if you try it with either of them, let me know! I like my soup really chunky, so I’ve scaled down the amount of liquid I add, but you can certainly add more if it looks a little thick to you.

4 cloves garlic, finely minced
1/2 yellow onion, chopped
2 tsp olive oil
1 tbsp butter
2 ribs celery, thinly sliced
1 carrot, diced
1 green bell pepper, diced
1 small head broccoli, roughly chopped
2 tsp dried basil
salt and pepper
2 cups water
2 cups 2% milk
1 cup shredded Napa cabbage

Heat the olive oil and butter in a large soup pot over medium. Add the garlic, onion, carrot, celery, bell pepper, and broccoli and cook, stirring, for about 3 minutes.
Stir in the basil and cook an additional minute.
Pour in the water (it should just cover the vegetables, but if it doesn’t, add a little extra). Cover the pot and simmer with the lid on for about 10 minutes (until the vegetables are tender).
Remove the cover and add the milk. Stir well, then season to taste with salt and pepper.
When heated through, stir in the Napa cabbage.
Mix well, then serve.

Corn and Roasted Red Pepper Soup

I think the whole idea of having a mantra is a little cheesy. Although during the last few miles of a marathon — when feel like I could keel over and die at any second — I have a few key phrases I repeat to myself to keep going, life is supposed to be a whole lot easier than a marathon and shouldn’t need mantras.

Or so I thought, before I moved to Korea. Now pretty much every day, I’ve found it pretty helpful to remind myself “it’s not having what you want, it’s wanting what you’ve got.” Thank you, Sheryl Crow.

To say that moving here has been a challenge is an understatement. I’ve battled homesickness, extreme frustration at work, and bus drivers that seem to have only one mission: to make all standing passengers fall down. Cooking has also been a challenge, because the grocery store has different produce every day, and there are a lot of ingredients I simply can’t find. I pretty much have to take what I can get and turn it into a good meal.


I’ve been meaning to make juk (thick rice porridge – it’s very popular here) for a few weeks now, but never really felt inspired. Then David Lebovitz posted about it and I took it as a sign that the time had come to do it.

Bell peppers were on sale and some fresh corn had just been delivered at the grocery store, so I decided to flavor my juk with them. There were some particularly aggressive little old ladies buying corn at the same time I was, but I managed to get my hands on a few good ears and only suffered one elbow to the ribs!


This soup is incredibly healthy – you just boil a little stock, water, and rice together until it’s nice and creamy, and then add the corn and roasted red peppers. It tastes like it’s got heavy cream in it, but it’s vegan! I made it with brown rice because it’s more nutritious than white, but either will work.

(adapted from David Lebovitz)
1 cup uncooked brown rice
3 cups vegetable (or chicken) stock
7 cups water
1 tsp salt, divided
3 ears of corn
2 red bell peppers
2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
1 tbsp olive oil
fresh cilantro

Combine the rice, stock, and water in a large saucepan and bring to a boil.
Turn the heat down to low, partially cover the pan, and simmer, stirring occasionally, for about an hour or until the rice is very soft. You may need to add a little water during this time if it seems to be getting thick.

While the rice is simmering, prepare the roasted red peppers. Either under a broiler, on a grill, or directly over a gas burner, char the skins of the peppers until they are black in most places. Transfer to a plastic bag and let stand for 15 minutes. Remove the peppers from the bag, scrape off the skin, and discard the stems and seeds. Cut the peppers into thin 1″ strips.

Cut the kernels off the ears of corn. Heat the oil in a medium skillet and add the garlic. After about a minute, add the corn
and saute for 3-5 minutes. Stir in the pepper strips and 1/2 tsp salt and turn off the heat.

When the rice is very soft and the mixture is like soup, add the corn and pepper mixture and stir well. Continue cooking over low heat for about half an hour, adding water if necessary to reach a desired soup consistency. Stir in the other 1/2 tsp of salt.

Garnish with fresh cilantro to serve.

(Note: any leftovers will thicken considerably in the fridge. Just stir in more water when you reheat if you want to get the soup-like consistency back)

Rice-stuffed Bell Peppers

stuffed pepper 3

Some vegetables are just crying out to be stuffed. That little groove in celery was clearly designed by some higher power with peanut butter in mind. I can’t look at mushrooms without thinking how much better they would be flipped upside down, stems removed, and filled with a rich savory mixture that preferably includes bacon. I don’t mind eating raw bell peppers, but I like them so much more when they’re filled and baked.

The other day I was remembering the red bell peppers stuffed with quinoa that I made a few months ago, and I realized something was missing from my life. Stuffed peppers. I haven’t found quinoa here yet, but I do have plenty of brown rice and tofu, and I knew that together they could make a few green bell peppers into a satisfying meal.


4 small green bell peppers
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 yellow onion, diced
8 ounces firm tofu, drained of excess water
1 1/2 cups cooked rice (I used a mixture of brown and white)
1 cup roughly chopped fresh spinach
1 hot red pepper (or jalapeno), chopped
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup thinly sliced green onion (green parts only)

Preheat the oven to 375 F.
Cut the peppers in half lengthwise, leaving the stems intact. Discard the seeds and membranes.
Heat the oil in a large frying pan and add the garlic and onion.
Cook until onion is translucent and soft, then add the rice, spinach, hot pepper, and salt.
Cook, stirring, for about 3 minutes, then remove from heat.
In a medium bowl, smash the tofu with your hands until it is a smooth puree. Stir in the rice mixture and green onions and allow to cool slightly. Taste and add more salt if necessary.
Place the bell pepper halves in a baking pan and fill each with a few spoonfuls of filling.
Bake for 30-40 minutes, or until the filling is golden brown and the peppers are soft.


Quinoa-Stuffed Bell Peppers

My jeans are telling me that it’s time to stop eating so much refined sugar, white flour, and red meat.  And when they tell me things like that, I listen.  

Our move to Thailand was pushed back a week because my husband got really sick, so for our last week in the US I’m loading up on whole grains, good fats, and vegetables.  This recipe fits the bill perfectly.  Quinoa is my favorite whole grain because it’s versatile and cooks quickly.  A little feta is thrown in for good measure and great flavor.  And stuffed peppers just look so nice and well-presented!

(Adapted from Delicious Living)
3 medium bell peppers (any color works – but red is my favorite)
1 cup quinoa, well rinsed and drained
2 cups water
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 small onion, chopped (about 1 cup)
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup pine nuts
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 small zucchini, chopped
a nice handful of spinach leaves, sliced thinly
2 tablespoons chopped fresh oregano
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
4 ounces crumbled feta cheese

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. 

Cut the peppers in half lengthwise and remove the seeds and veins
When water boils, submerge bell peppers and simmer for about 5 minutes. Drain in a large colander, or set upside down on paper towels.

Combine quinoa and water in a medium saucepan; bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 15 minutes.
In a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat. 
Add onion and garlic; stir for 5 minutes. 
Add pine nuts and cumin and stir for 1 minute, then add zucchini, spinach, oregano, and salt. Stir for 3 minutes, then remove from heat and add cooked quinoa and feta cheese.

Preheat oven to 425°. 

Set peppers in a large rectangular baking dish coated with cooking spray or lined with parchment paper.
Fill each pepper with quinoa mixture.
Bake for 20 minutes. 
Serve warm.

Bean Thread Salad

I found a huge package of bean threads for ridiculously cheap at a market in San Francisco, and knew there would be many of these salads in my future.  Tonight I found everything I needed to create this recipe already in my refrigerator, so this was easy to throw together.  It’s a beautiful mix of colors and has the quintessential Thai flavors I love so much: fish sauce, lime, mint, cilantro, and peanuts.  YUM!

4 oz bean threads
1 small carrot
1 red bell pepper
a few handfuls of lettuce, cut into thin strips
1 tbsp thinly sliced green onions
1 tbsp chopped cilantro
2 tsp chopped fresh mint
2 tbsp chopped peanuts
4 tbsp lime juice
2 tbsp fish sauce
1 tbsp sugar
Drop the bean threads into boiling water for about 40 seconds, then drain and rinse with cold water.
Cut the bell pepper into thin strips and put into a serving bowl with the lettuce.
Using a vegetable peeler, create 2″ long curls of carrot, and put these in the serving bowl as well.
Stir together the lime juice, fish sauce, and sugar.  
Put the bean threads in their own bowl and add about half the lime juice mixture.  Toss well.
Put the noodles on top of the vegetables and sprinkle the green onions, mint, cilantro, and peanuts over them.  Add a little more dressing and toss well.  Taste, and add the rest of the dressing if desired.  

NOTE: Bean threads look like thin white noodles.  Here is an example of what they look like:
photo from


Paella is a great one-dish meal that can be altered in myriad ways depending on what you have on hand and what is in season.  Beginning with the components of broth, saffron, and short-grain rice, from there the possibilities are endless.  For this variety, I included green beans, two colors of bell pepper, peas, and lima beans.  I sauteed chicken and sausage in a separate pan, to suit vegetarian and meat-eating tastes.  If you are not cooking for vegetarians, mix the meats in before you put the pan into the oven.  This will feed 4-6 hungry adults, and is great served alongside a simple green salad.

Also, don’t be deterred by the inclusion of lima beans.  I normally despise them, but in this dish they blend innocuously into the background and just provide another textural element that is actually really satisfying.

(adapted from Delicioso: The Regional Cooking of Spain by Penelope Casas)
4 1/2 cups vegetable broth
1/4 tsp saffron threads, crumbled
1/2 cup dry white wine
4 tbsp olive oil, divided
2 lbs boneless-skinless chicken thighs, cut into bite-sized chunks
2-3 links of sausage (1/2 lb), sliced (chorizo is traditional; I used very non-traditional andouille)
3 plum tomatoes
1/2 cup red bell pepper, diced
1/2 cup green bell pepper, diced
1/4 lb green beans, cut in 1 1/2″ lengths
5 green onions, thinly sliced
5 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp paprika
1/2 cup lima beans (fresh or frozen)
1/2 cup peas (fresh or frozen)
2 1/2 cups Arborio rice
1 tsp sea salt
Preheat the oven to 400 F
Slice the tomatoes in half crosswise.  Remove the seeds, then grate on a box grater to remove all the flesh from the skins.  Discard the skins, reserving the pulp.
Simmer the broth, wine, and saffron in a medium saucepan. 
Sprinkle the chicken with a little salt (1/2 a tsp or so).
In a paella pan or skillet, heat 2 tbsp oil over medium-high heat.  Add the sausage and chicken and cook 5-7 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked through.  
Remove and set aside.
Add the other 2 tbsp olive oil and heat.  Add the green beans, and both bell peppers. 
Cook, stirring, about 5 minutes.  
Stir in the paprika and tomato pulp, then the lima beans, peas, and green beans.  Cook 2-3 minutes, then stir in the rice and sea salt.
Ladle the broth into the pan of rice and stir occasionally until most of the liquid is absorbed.
Stir in the meat, then transfer the pan to the oven.  Cook for 10-15 minutes, or until the rice is tender and the liquid is absorbed.  Remove from the heat, cover with foil, and let stand 5 minutes, then serve.  


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