First off, I thought we’d better make good use of those glorious Autumn bell peppers. I wanted to make stuffed bell peppers that weren’t super heavy and cheesy, so I drew some inspiration from the all famous Texan ‘chili con carne’ and stuffed them with a simplified vegan lentil and chickpea version.
The peppers roast in the oven while the lentils simmer away on the stove, which then gives you free time to properly season and cook the rest of the veggies. Then you just toss the lentils and veggies together with the chickpeas, stuff the peppers and serve them right away. I chose green lentils for this recipe because they retain their shape and look far more appetising than the standard brown version. Like all lentils, they are rich in fibre and iron, but this variety has more flavour than the rest.
4 large red bell Peppers, head cut, seeded and membranes removed to form a cup
2 tablespoons Olive oil, or more as needed
Himalayan salt and pepper
Veggie Chilli filling
½ cup lentils, rinsed
1 dry bay leaf
2 Carrots, diced
1 red Onion, diced
1 Garlic cloves, pressed or minced
2 large Tomato, chopped
1 can Chickpeas, drained
1 cup chestnut Mushrooms, sliced
1/2 tbsp Coconut oil
1 tsp Paprika
1 tsp Cumin
½ tsp Turmeric
½ tsp Himalayan salt
½ tsp Cayenne chilli pepper
2 tbsp tomato puree
Preheat the oven to 220C and line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Place the prepared peppers on the sheet and drizzle with 2 tablespoons olive oil. Use your hands to rub the oil all over the peppers, then arrange them with the cut side up and sprinkle them with salt and pepper. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until the peppers are tender and a little blistered around the edges.
Meanwhile, combine the lentils with 1 ½ cup of water and bay leaf in a small pot. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, then reduce heat to maintain a gentle simmer and cook until the lentils are tender, about 25 minutes. (Add another splash of water if necessary to prevent the lentils from scorching.) Drain off the excess water and return the lentils to the pot. Discard the bay leaf.
In a saucepan, warm the coconut oil over medium heat. Add the onion and a sprinkle of salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions have softened and are turning golden on the edges. Add the garlic, carrot, mushrooms and tomato along with the paprika, turmeric, cumin and pepper. Once the lentils have cooked pour into the saucepan. Add in a cup of water and the tomato puree and allow the chilli to simmer for 20 minutes. After that, add in the chickpeas and combine the mix well.
Spoon a generous amount of chilli filling into each roasted pepper cup and sprinkle with chopped basil. Serve these with a fork and a knife, for slicing!